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Stocks finish tough week with some decent Friday gains

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Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 finished Friday’s trading session in positive territory. The Nasdaq Composite went negative as a result of another bad day for Apple (AAPL), which has become the lynchpin for the Nasdaq. Apple declined by a whopping 2.5% to $572.98. Apple has been on a basically downward trajectory since it hit its record high of $644 on April 10.

Miami-based corporations saw their stocks achieve extremely mixed results during Friday’s trading, with Lennar (LEN) as the big winner and Royal Caribbean (RCL) as the big loser.

The week’s most important event was the Department of Labor’s weekly report on initial unemployment claims. The anticipated total of new claims was exceeded by the rather enormous number of 16,000. Here is the crucial passage from the DOL report:

In the week ending April 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 386,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 388,000. The 4-week moving average was 374,750, an increase of 5,500 from the previous week's revised average of 369,250.

Friday’s investor sentiment appeared to be a balancing act which weighed the upbeat earnings reports from GE, Microsoft and Schlumberger against the ongoing unemployment crisis as well as the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. European markets walked a similar tightrope on Friday as Germany’s Ifo Institute released a surprisingly upbeat business confidence index. On the other hand, the yield on Spain’s ten-year bond briefly popped above 6% on Friday, sending traders running for their blood pressure medication.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 65 points on Friday to close at 13,029 for a gain of 50 basis points (0.50 percent). The S&P 500 advanced by 12 basis points (0.12 percent) to finish at 1,378. The NASDAQ Composite lost 24 basis points (0.24 percent) to end the day at 3,000.

Miami-based corporations had an extremely mixed day on Friday. Lennar (LEN) shot skyward by 3.66% to close at 25.77 Ryder System (R) advanced by 35 basis points (0.35%) to finish at 49.20. Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) sank by 2.82% to close at 31.68. Royal Caribbean (RCL) had the worst luck, sinking by 6.75% to end the day at 26.92.

The following companies will be playing “beat the number” on Monday, with the release of their quarterly earnings reports: Align Technology (ALGN), Ameriprise Financial (AMP), Bancorp South (BXS), BE Aerospace (BEAV), Brinker International (EAT), Conoco Phillips (COP), Crane Co (CR), Eaton (ETN), Ethan Allen (ETH), Hasbro (HAS), Illunmina (ILMN), Netflix (NFLX), Rent-a-Center (RCII), Roper Industries (ROP), SunTrust Banks (STI), Texas Instruments (TXN), Xerox (XRX) and Zions Bancorporation (ZION). Good luck!

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