The major indexes continued to rally, closing the week with gains for the sixth consecutive week. The Dow gained 85 points, the Nasdaq rose by 13, and the S&P 500 Index advanced 7. Twenty-five of the Dow’s 30 components gained ground, led by ExxonMobil (XOM), which rose 2% on news that Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway added 40 million Exxon shares to its holdings. Volume was light. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by two to one on the NYSE and by three to two on the Nasdaq. The prices of Treasuries weakened, while the price of gold futures gained 0.09% to $1,287.40 an ounce. The price of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 0.09% to $93.84 a barrel.
For the week, the Dow gained 1.2%, the Nasdaq rose by 1.7%, and the S&P 500 Index advanced by 1.5%.
In Other Business News:
- The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that its “Empire Index” of business conditions in the New York region slipped into negative territory for the first time since May. The index fell from positive 1.5 in October to negative 2.2 in November.
- Industrial production fell slightly in October, according to the Federal Reserve. Output from the nation’s factories, mines, and power plants declined by 0.1% compared with September. Manufacturing production, which is the largest component of the sector, grew by 0.3%, but that was offset by declines in output from power plants and in mining, which includes oil, gas, and coal production.
- General Electric announced it would sell shares in its retail finance business and then sell the unit off in 2014 in order to focus exclusively on its industrial finance business. The price of GE’s stock (GE) gained 0.7% in today’s session.
- Jos. A. Bank, the men’s clothing retailer, announced it withdrew a $2.3 billion, unsolicited offer to purchase rival Men’s Wearhouse but left open the possibility of a future merger, saying: “Jos. A. Bank continues to believe that a transaction could be in the best interest of the respective shareholders of the two companies … If, in the future, we are invited by the Men’s Wearhouse board to discuss our acquisition of Men’s Wearhouse, or if circumstances were otherwise to change, Jos. A. Bank may consider whether a new proposal to acquire Men’s Wearhouse is warranted.”
- Shares of Zulily (ZU), an online retailer of goods for children and their mothers, were priced at $22 for their initial public offering and closed at $37.70 today for a gain of 71%.
Finally, from our cutting room floor this week, here is evidence that creativity is alive and well—and knows no bounds.
- According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, egg companies are in a race to improve the chicken egg. Apparently, eggs that can be labeled “organic” or “extra omega 3” sell in supermarkets for a premium, and so naturally, scientists are looking for ways to boost the calcium content and the like. No doubt they will succeed. How much would you pay for the perfect egg? (Chickens think eggs are pretty perfect already.)
- Mallomars are 100 years old this month. Yes, Nabisco’s graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate cookie treat with a cult following was invented only one year after the Titanic, which sank. And yet Mallomars are still with us. (But can they float? That is the question. I think I’ll buy some Mallomars this weekend and find out.)
- Some bright-eyed entrepreneur is advertising on Kickstarter, the capital-raising website, for financial backing to develop an alarm clock that would shock people awake with bad news about their personal lives. The idea is that the clock would mine personal data in the owner’s mobile phone, tablet, or laptop and, when the alarm goes off, display the dire news where the time usually appears. Potentially, the clock might warn the owner of impending bankruptcy or even death. (This is supposed to get me OUT of bed?)
- At last, a cologne I can live with: It’s called “Farmer’s Cologne” and it’s available from Portland General Store in Maine. Farmer’s Cologne has been written up in Modern Farmer and the Los Angeles Times, whose reviewer says the scent is reminiscent of a hay barn. The product’s own hype claims that cows like the smell and that it brings to mind cowboys leaning on leather saddle horns. Unfortunately, a bottle costs $110, which is not very yokel friendly. That leaves me out. (As if I don’t smell enough like hay already.)
- Speaking of cows, scientists at Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology have developed a technology for capturing and compressing cow burps for use as a fuel. The researchers say the burps contain a gas similar to natural gas, but they note that the technology won’t become economically viable before 2050. (Let me guess: Until that time, they’ll be selling cow burps to perfume makers in Maine.)
Have a great weekend. And if you are wondering what’s next for equities as the major stock indexes reach new highs, listen to John Manley address “Facing questions about equities” as my guest for On the Trading DeskSM.