so much for deficit spending.
Stocks rise on earnings and budget surplus
Fri Feb 10, 2006 3:07 PM ET
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Friday after strong earnings from companies including insurance broker Aon Corp. (AOC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) helped sentiment and the government reported a surprisingly big budget surplus for January.
However sliding crude oil prices prompted investors to sell energy companies' shares, while Pfizer Inc.'s (PFE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) stock dropped on a disappointing outlook.
Aon shares rose nearly 10 percent to $38.30 on the New York Stock Exchange after the world's second-largest insurance broker reported late Thursday that fourth-quarter profit almost tripled.
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) stock, meanwhile, was off 0.3 percent at $59.72. NYMEX March crude <CLH6> fell 78 cents to $61.84 a barrel. Exxon Mobil was the second-biggest weight on the broad Standard & Poor's 500 Index.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 32.26 points, or 0.30 percent, at 10,915.61. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 1.93 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,265.71. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 0.28 points, or 0.01 percent, at 2,256.15.
The U.S. budget registered a surprisingly big surplus of $20.99 billion in January as strong receipts outweighed spending, a Treasury Department report showed.
"The market does not seem capable of finding a direction. As we head into Valentine's Day, the market can't handle love or rejection," said Christopher Rich, principal of Rich Advisory Group LLC, a research firm in Chicago. "This bipolar action has been the modus operandi for the last month. Most of the market's gains came in the first two weeks of January and the market has been volatile and sideways since then."
Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, said it sees 2006 profit slightly below analysts' average forecast. Pfizer's stock fell nearly 2 percent to $25.83 on the NYSE. It was the largest drag on both the Dow average and the S&P 500.
On Nasdaq, video game developer Atari (ATAR.O: Quote, Profile, Research) reported an unexpected quarterly loss and said there was "substantial doubt" about its ability to continue as a going concern, sending shares down 19.3 percent to 71 cents.
Chevron Corp. (CVX.N: Quote, Profile, Research) shares fell 0.4 percent to $56.69 on the NYSE.
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