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Stocks Eke Out Modest Gains


Wall Street finished a choppy day of trading in positive territory on Friday, overcoming an early dip to end the session with modest gains.

Shares dropped in early trading, threatening to continue a bout of profit taking that has marked most of the week. The morning slide came on the heels of disappointing new home sales data, which showed an unexpected decline for February.

Stocks quickly snapped back, although it took the Nasdaq most of the day to get back into positive territory. The major averages eventually finished the session higher. The Dow gained 35 points to close at 13,081. The Nasdaq advanced 5 points to 3,068. The S&P 500 climbed 4 points to 1,397.

New government data released this morning showed that new home sales fell 1.6 percent in February, dropping to a pace of 313,000 homes. Prices were up, however, climbing 8.3 percent to $233,700.

In corporate news, Bank of America (BAC) is offering a new option for people behind on their mortgage payments. The test program allows delinquent homeowners to stay on in their homes as tenants.

There are also a handful of earnings reports making headlines as well.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) said its quarterly profit rose 8 percent from last year. The bottom line at the owner of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurant chains was boosted by sales that climbed to $2.2 billion from about $2 billion last year.

Micron Technology (MU) announced a loss for its latest quarter, reversing a profit posted in the same period last year. Sales and margins at the memory chip maker both deteriorated.

Nike (NKE) revealed a quarterly profit that rose 7 percent from last year. The athletic shoe maker said its revenue jumped 15 percent to nearly $5.9 billion.

IT services company Accenture (ACN) reported a stronger-than-expected rise in its quarterly profit. The company benefited from revenue growth across all operating groups. Accenture also raised its expectations for the full year.

Looking overseas, European stocks also overcame early losses to finish the day higher. Germany and the U.K. each climbed 0.2 percent. France advanced 0.1 percent.

Asian stocks generally finished the day lower. Japan and China both posted losses of about 1.1 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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