U.S. stocks closed with gains Friday to register a sixth week of gains; the S&P 500 added 0.2% and NASDAQ 0.5% as Apple was upgraded to a $900 target leading both indexes upward. Volatility has all but disappeared as the CBOE VIX volatility index hit a 5-year low of 13.43 before closing down 5.9% at 13.45. While there were a few economic reports market participants seem immune to almost all news, as they sing along to the tune of central bankers who have implicitly promised more assistance in the weeks ahead.
- The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey for August showed the main index rose to its highest since May to 73.6.
- The Conference Board said its leading economic index climbed 0.4%, reversing a 0.4% decline in June. The July strength came from an improvement in a number of components with the largest contributions coming from a big jump in applications for housing permits and declines in applications for unemployment benefits. The rebound last month put the index at 95.8, matching its May level, which had been the highest reading in four years.
Gold rose 20 cents to finish at $1,619.40 an ounce, while silver fell 21 cents to $28.002 per ounce. Crude oil rose 41 cents to end at $96.01 per barrel.
Platinum gained $37.90, or 2.6% to end at $1,473.10, its highest level since early July; it rose almost 3% on Thursday. Thousands of workers walked off the job a week ago at the platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg. Its owner, Lonmin PLC, has closed the mine. South African police opened fire Thursday on a crowd of striking workers at the mine, leaving 34 dead. Lonmin is the world's third largest producer of platinum.
British shares gained 0.3%, German shares 0.6% and French shares 0.2%.
- German July producer prices came in lower at 0.4% versus expectations of 0.9% year on year — potentially giving ammunition to those who argue the European Central Bank could further ease monetary policy if it wishes.
- The Bank of Spain says the country's bad loan rate shot up to a record of 9.42% in June, with more than €164 billion ($201.38 billion) in loans to households and businesses at least three months behind in their payments. The increase from May was more than €8 billion, the second biggest monthly increase on record.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.8% to its highest finish in more than three months, as the government forecast the country will soon emerge from its 15-year battle with deflation. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.1%.