U.S. Stocks On The Rise As Pressure On Bond Yields Subsides

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks rose on Friday, as investors sought bargains in a market battered by three days of sharp losses and drew encouragement from stabilization in bond yields, which have challenged the attractiveness of stocks since last week.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond backed off an overnight high of 5.25%, helping to take some pressure off stocks. An improvement in the April trade deficit helped boost the dollar, in turn benefiting the value of bonds.

"We've been tracking the bond market over the last couple of days," said Kevin Kruszenski, head of trading at KeyBanc Capital. "The selling [in bonds] got overdone and buyers like a yield north of 5%," he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 54 points to 13,321, as a preponderance of its 30 component stocks advanced, led by the likes of Alcoa Inc. , General Motors Corp. and Honeywell Inc. .

Also among the blue chips, shares of McDonald's Corp. gained 1.4% after saying global same-store sales rose 8.7% in May.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index advanced nearly 7 points to 1,497, and the Nasdaq Composite rose about 18 points to 2,560.

Tech shares receive a lift from the chip sector. National Semiconductor jumped 11.2%, reaching an all-time high, after the company posted a smaller-than-expected drop in profit and said it was buying back $2 billion worth of shares. UBS upgraded the stock to buy from neutral.

Trading volumes showed 901 million shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.174 billion trading on the Nasdaq stock market. Advancing shares outpaced decliners by 18 to 13 on the NYSE, while gainers topped decliners by 4 to 3 on the Nasdaq.

By sector, semiconductors were among the top gainers, along with airlines and broker/dealers . Oil , and natural gas and pharmaceuticals were flat to mildly higher.

Bouncing back?

After dropping nearly 200 points on Thursday, the Dow industrials' losses amounted to 410 points over the past three sessions.

"The major market averages have now pulled back about 3% and are entering that target range for a typical summertime pullback of between 3% and 5%," said Marc Pado, market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.

"Obviously, the rocketing bond yields are disconcerting, but we are only now reaching technical support," he said. "It is possible that, once we digest the global market reaction to our sell-off, we could see an attempt at a little Friday bounce."

In recent action, the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond was up 3/32 at 95 6/32, yielding 5.124%. It earlier rose to a high of 5.25%.

The bond market came under pressure overnight.

But news that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 6.2% in April to $58.5 billion helped boost the dollar, which in turn bolsters the attractiveness of U.S. assets such as stocks and bonds for overseas investors.

This was the largest improvement since last October in the trade gap, which came in comfortably below the consensus forecast among Wall Street economists calling for a deficit of $63.5 billion.

The improvement in the deficit should boost second-quarter gross domestic product, economists said, although there remains two months of trade data to assess yet.

Also helping bonds come off highs, Chicago Federal Reserve President Michael Moskow said on business news channel CNBC that he believes inflation expectations remain well contained, signaling that the bond market is appropriately priced.

Other markets

The dollar rose sharply against the euro and was also gaining against the yen following the trade data.

Crude oil futures dropped $1.23 to $65.70 a barrel.

Gold futures fell $5.30 to $657.0 an ounce.

By Nick Godt