Stocks Close on Gains as S&P 500 Tops All-Time High

Michael Teague  |

After an up-and-down week fueled at least in part by the latest chapter of the European debt crisis, the S&P 500 finally broke through its October 2007 record of 1,565.15, reaching as high as 1,570.28 during the day before closing up 0.41 percent at 1,569.19.

Meanwhile, the Dow gained 0.36 percent to close at 14,578.54, while the Nasdaq was up 0.34 percent, ending the week at 3,267.52.

The two-week old crisis centering on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus dominated headlines all week.

Despite the fact that the Cypriot government hammered out a deal at the last minute to meet last Monday’s E.U. deadline for a restructuring plan that would allow it access to a 10 billion Euro bailout, the island’s banks did not reopen for business until Thursday.

The much-feared run on the banks did not occur, but the island’s police were on high alert, and hundreds of extra security contractors were brought in as a precaution as withdrawal limits were eased from 100 to 300 Euros.  Tight restrictions on transfers of money off the island remained in place, as private accounts larger than 100,000 Euros could see up to 40 percent of their savings confiscated in a newly configured bank tax.

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Notable movement for the day included Blackberry (BBRY), who had gained over 4 percent at one point in early trading after the company announced fourth quarter profits that upturned expectations.  This good news was accompanied by the announcement of the departure of the company’s co-founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, and shares closed the day down 0.86 percent to $14.45.

U.S. Airways (LCC) gained 1.92 percent to end at $16.97, on news that its merger with American Airlines came one step closer to being approved after a New York court ruling on Wednesday.

Tiffany & Co. (TIFF) gained 1.64 percent to $69.54 on a strong earnings report that indicated sales and profits that bested expectations.

J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) dropped yet another 0.65 percent, closing at $47.46, with bad news from last year’s trading scandal seemingly unstoppable, and 8 different federal agencies now investigating the bank.

Meanwhile Morgan Stanley (MS) lost 1.39 percent to $21.98, and Apple (AAPL) dropped 2.08 percent to close at $442.66.

The markets’ overall gains come against a backdrop of the Federal Reserve’s continued assurance and defense of its quantitative easing policy, which is to continue with little to no modification until sustainable improvement in the economy is seen.

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