U.S. stocks opened slightly lower Friday after an 8.9 earthquake in Japan provided a new bout of uncertainty to global markets already rattled by oil prices and Middle East unrest. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 25 points to 11,958. The S&P 500 dipped a point to 1,294. The Nasdaq Composite turned higher, up a point to 2,702. The quake has the bears out in full force even as the price of oil pulls back. The insurance stocks like Metlife, Aflac, Prudential, and Hartford are lower on concerns of their exposure to the Japanese disaster. The commodity sector opened lower, but battled back. Valero is up 5% after getting hit yesterday. Today they signed another deal to buy a portion of Chevron's refinery business. The financials are holding up well this morning. The techs are lower, but not by much. Apple is one of the few techs trading higher. Oracle and Google are lower even though they were upgraded. Corning is modestly lower even though none of their Japanese plants were damaged. In the retail space AnnTaylor is up 10% after beating estimates. Aeropostale is down 6% after missing estimates. JCPenney and Tractor Supply are higher on upgrades. Big Lots is up on takeover speculation. Through the morning the averages remained in the red, but not by much. During the lunch hour the averages moved into the green lead by the commodities. In the afternoon the averages kept improving wit h the Dow rising as much as 100 points before pulling back into the close. The Nasdaq rose 25 points before pulling back into the close. Resilient market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 59 points at 12,044, led by 3M, Caterpillar, and Alcoa. The S&P 500 rose 9 points to 1,304 led by its energy and materials sectors. The Nasdaq Composite gained 14 points to 2,715. For the week, the Dow lost 1.03%, the S&P 500 fell 1.28% and the Nasdaq dropped 2.48%.
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