US stocks edged slightly higher as a rise in Chinese bank reserve requirements weighed on investor confidence after a week of choppy trading.
Dell jumped 1.7 per cent to $13.90 after reporting strong earnings. The computer maker raised its full-year earnings forecast, beat expectations and doubled its third-quarter profits from a year ago.
The falling cost of PC components helped the technology company beat margin expectations, and it said it expected the prices to stay low during this quarter. Dell also said that it expected stable demand from both government and corporate customers.
Investors have been concerned that the computer replacement cycle could be drawing to an end. They were particularly shaken when Cisco said it had seen an unexpectedly sharp drop-off in orders from European governments and US states, as they implemented austerity cuts.
The S&P 500 technology index was up 0.2 per cent and rival Hewlett-Packard, which will report its earnings on Monday, rose 1.9 per cent to $42.49.
The Chinese decision to raise bank reserve requirements, intended to trim lending and reduce inflationary pressure in China, weighed on the broader market.
The wider indices spent most of the day in negative territory but started to turn round after a report on record steel demand spurred steel stocks and the materials sector rose 0.7 per cent.
The S&P 500 closed up 0.3 per cent to 1,199.73, lower by 0.7 per cent on the week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 0.2 per cent to 11,203.33 and 0.5 per cent over the five days, while the Nasdaq Composite was 0.2 per cent higher at 2,518.12 and down 0.6 per cent on the week.
“It needed to rest, it needed to pull back, it moved up too far, too fast,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist for Prudential Financial.
Stocks had rallied on Thursday as the GM initial public offering boosted investor confidence and concerns about Irish debt faded. But on Friday General Motors spent much of the day lower before closing its second trading session up 0.2 per cent to $34.26.
Ms Krosby said that buyers might feel it was fully valued because the IPO was priced at the top of its range. But she also added that the falling shares could be a reflection of perceived growth opportunities in China and the US.
Harrah’s Entertainment, the hotel and casino operator, which had been due to list on Friday, cancelled its $500m IPO, citing market conditions.
In technology, Salesforce.com surged 18.1 per cent to $136.74, after rising 79 per cent so far this year. The seller of online customer-relationship management software reported that its sales for the quarter, which ends in January, would beat analyst expectations. Profit would be in line with consensus forecasts.
Google fell 1 per cent to $590.83 after reports that it was in talks to buy Groupon, the privately-owned website that offers local discounts.
The deal could value the Chicago-based start-up at more than $3bn.
Del Monte Foods jumped 11.5 per cent to $17.51 after people close to the situation said that it was in advanced buy-out talks with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the private equity group.
The offer would be for $18.50 a share, valuing the tinned fruits and pet food company at about $3.6bn. Shares in KKR gained 0.8 per cent to $12.85.
Heinz beat earnings expectations but fell short on the top line, sending its shares down 0.4 per cent to $48.
The food group’s quarterly profit was boosted by price rises and growth in emerging markets.
The company added that it was still on track to deliver growth in fiscal 2011 of 3-4 per cent and increased its free cash flow target.
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