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MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia - 18/02/2013

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(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) The Standard & Poor's 500 kept alive a streak of weekly advances at seven weeks. The index has advanced every week since the start of the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 8.37 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,981.76.

The S&P 500 index fell 1.59, or 0.1 percent, to 1,519.79.

The Nasdaq composite fell 6.63, or 0.2 percent, to 3,192.03.

U.S. stocks were in negative territory for most of Friday, pushed down after reports Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) saw disastrous February sales, with shares of the company down over 2%.

News sources cited an internal email from a company VP, Jerry Murray, who called February's month-to-date sales a "total disaster".

The news led stocks lower, which earlier had moved between slight losses and gains as anxiety over an overbought market and currency tensions amid the G-20 meeting countered positive economic data in the U.S.

In the U.S. on Friday, consumer sentiment rose higher than expected in February, with the University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment gauge up at a preliminary reading of 76.3 - the highest level since November - from a final January reading of 73.8. The index was expected to rise to 75.

The New York Federal Reserve Empire State manufacturing index also came in at positive 10.04 in February, from negative 7.8 the prior month - turning positive for the first time since July. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected the index to rise moderately to negative 2.0.

Industrial production, meanwhile, slipped 0.1% in January, but the Federal Reserve found the final two months of last year were stronger than initially estimated. Industrial production was expected to expand by 0.2%.

All this came amid currency tensions as finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 meet in Moscow.

According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, G-20 officials will pledge to ensure monetary policy is focused on price stability and growth, rather than weakening countries' respective currencies. The newspaper cited a draft of a statement that is expected to be released on Saturday.

In corporate news, activist investor Carl Icahn took to the airwaves today to talk up his near 13% stake in Herbalife (NYSE:HLF). He said the company was a "great company" to take private, and said he thinks Herbalife has a legitimate business model and is a "well-run" company.

The company has been accused of running a pyramid scheme by Pershing Square hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who has feuded publicly with Icahn over Herbalife.

Shares were of Herbalife were earlier up more than 12%, but were lately higher by just over 2.7% after the Icahn talk.

Elsewhere, it was disclosed that hedge fund manager David Einhorn raised his stake in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the fourth quarter, to 1.3 million shares, according to a regulatory released Thursday.

In other tech news, shares of LogMeIn (NASDAQ:LOGM) plummeted over 29% after the company was downgraded by a series of brokers following disappointing guidance.

In earnings news, shares of Kraft Foods (NASDAQ:KRFT) edged up after the company's quarterly results missed views, but it raised its 2013 profit forecast to 2.75 a share from 2.60 previously.

Shares of Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB) rose 1.5% after the company said its second quarter earnings fell on restructuring charges, but adjusted earnings topped market views as revenue rose 10%.

In other news, Xoom (NASDAQ:XOOM) shares rocketed more than 43% after its IPO, with the online money-transfer services company lately trading at 23. This compares to its debut price of 16 - already above expectations.

Shares of St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ) fell almost 4% after the medical devices company recalled its AMPLATZER TorqVue FX Delivery System, which is used to facilitate devices to close openings between two upper chambers of the heart.

Commodities

April gold lost 26 to settle at 1,609.50 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange - the lowest settlement price for a most-active contract since August 15, according to FactSet, as the yellow metal lost its save haven shine.

There was also news that George Soros reduced his holdings in the exchange traded fund SPDR Gold Trust by 55%.

Meanwhile, oil futures lost ground on a stronger dollar and as investors assessed economic data throughout the week that could impact oil demand, like weak eurozone GDP data, and data that showed that Japan's economy contracted for the third quarter.

March crude shed 1.45, or 1.5%, to settle at 95.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down almost 0.2% for the week.

Europe

European markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The FTSE 100 gained 0.01%, while the DAX led the CAC 40 lower. They fell 0.49% and 0.25% respectively.

For the week:

The Dow is down 11.21 points, or less than 0.1 percent.

The S&P 500 is up 1.86 points, or 0.1 percent.

The Nasdaq is down 1.84 points, or less than 0.1 percent.

The Dow is up 877.62 points, or 6.7 percent.

 






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