Stocks advanced Friday, capping off a second straight weekly advance for the market.
Investors were encouraged by the latest corporate deal news — that General Electric will be selling its long-struggling lending business.
Investors are turning their focus to next week, when corporate earnings ramp up. So far the outlook isn’t encouraging. With economic sluggishness in the U.S. and Europe, as well as the rapid appreciation of the dollar, analysts expect first-quarter results to be down 4.6 percent.
“Earnings are not going to be down because the U.S. economy is struggling,” said James Liu, global market strategist at JPMorgan Funds. “It’s going to be because of what has happened in energy and the dollar.”
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Next week the nation’s biggest banks will report their results, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs. Thirty-five of the members of the Standard & Poor’s 500 will report their results, as well as seven members of the Dow Jones industrial average.
The Dow rose 98.92, or 0.6 percent, to 18,057.65. The S&P 500 rose 10.88, or 0.5 percent, to 2,102.06. The Nasdaq composite rose 21.41, or 0.4 percent, to 4,995.98.
General Electric soared after the company said it would sell most of its lending arm, known as GE Capital, and shift its focus back to its industrial business. GE’s stock jumped $2.78, or 11 percent, to $28.51, making it the biggest gainer in the Dow and the S&P 500.
It was a solid week for the market overall. The Dow and S&P 500 each rose 1.7 percent, while the Nasdaq rose 2.2 percent. The stock market has not had two straight weeks of gains since mid-February.