US Stocks Gain on Banks, Tech, Retail

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are edging higher Friday morning as technology companies and banks make gains. While retailers are mostly higher, jewelry chain Tiffany and Hibbett Sports are both falling after investors were disappointed with their quarterly reports and forecasts. The S&P 500 has slipped for four days in a row and is down 1 percent this week.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index gained 9 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,756 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average added 79 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,953. The Nasdaq composite climbed 22 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,503. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was unchanged at 1,576.

LOOKING GOOD: Ulta Beauty climbed $12.42, or 6 percent, to $218.56 after the beauty products retailer's fourth quarter report. Software maker Adobe reported results that beat analysts' forecasts and rose $9.24, or 4.2 percent, to $228.15.

GEM STONED: Tiffany dropped $6.95, or 6.8 percent, to $95.76 after it reported weaker sales than analysts expected. Its forecast for the current year was also below what investors were looking for. Also sinking was Hibbett Sports, which posted a smaller profit than analysts had hoped for and also forecast disappointing sales. The stock gave up $2.37, or 10.7 percent, to $20.13.

OVERSTOCK SINKS: Online discount retailer Overstock.com said profit margins have fallen hard because of competition with Wayfair, and CEO Patrick Byrne said the company will "respond in kind," meaning Overstock will try to ramp up its growth and will be willing to lose money to achieve that goal. The stock dropped $4.55, or 9.4 percent, to $43.65 while Wayfair lost $5.06, or 6 percent, to $78.90.

INDICATORS: The Federal Reserve said factory output continued to rise as companies in the U.S. produced more cars, computers and furniture. It reported that manufacturing output rose 1.2 percent in February after three months of weak results. Factory output has increased 2.5 percent over the last year.

The Commerce Department said homebuilders started work on fewer apartment buildings in February, and that caused overall housing starts to drop 7 percent. Builders have shifted their efforts to single-family homes recently as the economy has improved.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude was little changed at $61.20 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 10 cents to $65 a barrel in London.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.85 percent from 2.83 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 106.04 yen from 106.24 yen. The euro fell to $1.2286 from $1.2303.

OVERSEAS: The German DAX, Britain's FTSE and the CAC 40 in France all edge up 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.6 percent while South Korea's Kospi edged 0.1 percent higher and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dipped 0.1 percent.

(BE)