Technology stocks surged for four days, taking the rest of the market for a ride upward. On the fifth day they rested, leaving the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index up almost 5 percent as the markets closed for Good Friday.
But some stocks didn't need the tech boost. With first-quarter reports in from almost a third of the S&P 500 companies, earnings were up 8.9 percent over a year ago, sending the index up almost 3 percent. Financials reported solid gains -- J.P. Morgan Chase up 43 percent, Citicorp up 18 percent, Bank of America ahead 15 percent. The earnings were boosted by home-mortgage refinancers grabbing hold of historically low interest rates and by the continuing high level of consumer credit card debt. The numbers made it clear why one often hears that retail banking can be very good indeed.
But even the big companies that had good news to report -- Colgate-Palmolive, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo -- were cautious about what the rest of the year might hold. That stance seemed justified, given continued overcapacity and job-market stagnation, with initial jobless claims above 400,000 for the ninth week running.
-- Nancy McKeon