U.S. stocks began with gains Friday, with the S&P 500 readying to notch its largest first-quarter advance in more than a decade, after data had U.S. purchases up more than expected in February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 42 points to 13,188. The S&P 500 climbed 4 points to 1,408. The Nasdaq Composite gained 8 points to 3,103. The techs and financials are higher which seems appropriate since they are the two best sectors to start the year. Apple was upgraded once again for the millionth time this quarter. Surprisingly the stock opened modestly lower. The other goliath this quarter has been Google. The stock is higher on rumors the company will introduce an iPad later in the year. The chips are holding in there. Nvidia is higher on an upgrade. Research in Motion is surprisingly higher following dismal earnings last night. Research in Motion is down 5% for the year after falling 75% last year. Not a good trend. The financials are holding up even as we hear rumors Moodys will downgrade Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Bank of America. US Bancorp is lower on a downgrade. Even the energy space is higher. Apache is up a percent on an upgrade. Cliffs Natural Resources is lower even though it received an upgrade. Coal and coal related stocks had performed awful to start the year. Concerns of slowing economic growth in Asia is hitting the commodity space. Through the first hour the averages held up as every sector is trading higher. In the retail space, another hot sector to start the year, Gap is higher on an upgrade. Disney and Lululemon Athletica are higher on upgrades. Finish Line is down 13% on in line earnings. Through the morning the selling accelerated thanks in large part to Apple. Apple dropped 10 points dragging the Nasdaq with it. The Dow sold off as well led by the financials ironically. Heading into the lunch hour the averages roared back. Apple is still in the red, but the rest of the techs look good. Financials are still mixed, but the rest of the market looks good. In the last hour the Dow remained strong while the Nasdaq succumbed to Apple selling pressure. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 66 points to 13,212, sealing its best first-quarter point gain in its history. The S&P 500 gained 5 points to 1,408. garnering its biggest first-quarter advance since 1998. The Nasdaq Composite fell 3 points to 3,091, leaving it up nearly 19% for the first quarter.
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