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First winning week of April for stocks

First winning week of April for stocks

April 20th, 2012 in News

NEW YORK (AP) - Stronger profits from Microsoft, McDonald's and other major U.S. corporations pushed stocks higher Friday. Optimism from Europe helped brighten the mood.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index had a winning week for the first time this month.

Before the market opened, McDonald's posted better quarterly profits, buoyed by warm weather and sales of new menu items like Chicken McBites and oatmeal.

Microsoft beat analysts' projections with quarterly earnings and revenue, and sales in its Windows division were surprisingly strong. And General Electric posted a profit of more than $3 billion, helped by orders for locomotives, aircraft engines and other equipment.

The Dow rose 65.16 points to close at 13,029.26. The S&P 500 added 1.61 points to 1,378.53.

Corporate earnings results have provided a pleasant surprise, said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ. After nine straight quarters of growth, earnings for S&P 500 companies were expected to be nearly flat. But eight of every 10 companies that have reported so far, including Coca-Cola and IBM, have beaten estimates. As a result, first-quarter earnings are now projected to rise 4.4 percent, according to S&P.

In other U.S. trading, Apple sank 2.5 percent, helping to tug the Nasdaq composite index down 7.11 points to 3,000.45.

The Dow gained 1.4 percent this week, and the S&P 500 index 0.6 percent.