Stock market posts best week of 2012

AP

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - The stock market is wrapping up its best week of the year.

News that businesses are restocking their inventories faster than expected pushed stocks higher Friday, giving the Dow Jones industrial average its fourth straight day of gains.

The Dow rose 93 points to close at 12,554. All the big stock indexes have risen more than 3 percent this week, although they're still below the peaks they reached in the spring.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose almost 11 points to 1,326. The Nasdaq composite rose 27 points, almost 1 percent, to 2,858.

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Two stocks rose for every one that fell. Of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500, energy was the only one to decline. Energy stocks fell as the price of crude oil declined.

Friday's turnaround came after the Commerce Department said U.S. wholesale stockpiles grew 0.6 percent in April. That's twice as fast as their March growth and a sign that businesses are ordering the goods that should lead to increased factory production and sales. Investors had been braced for more sluggish growth.

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) was the biggest gainer in the Dow, up $2.35, or 3.5 percent, at $68.22. Other companies that depend heavily on a strong economy grew too, including Intel Corp., up 47 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $26.41, and General Electric (GE), up 20 cents, or 1 percent, to $19.20.

Nine out of ten industry groups in the S&P 500 rose. Only energy stocks declined, following energy prices lower.

Facebook (FB) rose 79 cents, or 3 percent, to $27.10 after announcing an "app center" that will recommend new add-on software for users. Anything that boosts user interaction is likely to help it sell more ads, which has been a key concern for investors in its new stock, which debuted three weeks ago at $38.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) rose 51 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $18.36 after shareholder votes prompted the resignations of two directors at its annual meeting on Friday. Earlier in the day it had said it will sell pipeline assets in three separate deals for a total of more than $4 billion in cash.

Shares of truckmaker Navistar International Corp. (NAV)  rose $4.25, or 17.6 percent, to $28.36 after investor Carl Icahn boosted his stake.

Yet the bullish mood among investors was tempered this week after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday disappointed investors by suggesting that the central bank would take no immediate action to jump-start the U.S. economy. 

That caused world stock markets to drop Friday, wiping out earlier gains stemming from surprise announcement by China that it would cut interest rates.  Markets, instead of reacting to the cut, were also bracing for the possibility of glum economic data from China over the weekend.

"Clearly sentiment is all over the place," said Chris Weston of IG Markets.

Markets fell in Asia Friday. Shanghai's stock index lost a half-percent, the fifth day of losses. Japan's Nikkei fell 2.1 percent.

Chinese leaders have been showing signs of urgency ahead of May trade and industrial data due out this weekend that might be even weaker than earlier pessimistic forecasts. The Chinese government cut interest rates for the first time in four years and has reduced gasoline and diesel prices for the second time in a month.

Over the long run, that will put more money in the pockets of Chinese consumers. In the short run it's a sign that the government is worried about growth.

China is a key U.S. trade partner so its growth is important to U.S. companies. Its importance is magnified by the possibility that Europe's economy will go from slow growth to shrinkage, Landesman said.

Major European markets fell. France's benchmark index lost 1.3 percent, Britain's dropped 0.8 percent and Germany's fell 0.9 percent.