The second-quarter earnings season continued to wind down calmly, with most companies coming in ahead of profit predictions. But China reported a slowdown in its export growth. And the so-called fiscal cliff of 2013, when government spending cuts and higher taxes could kick in, looms larger now that earnings season is out of the way.
"There are three big elephants in the room," said Marty Leclerc, chief investment officer of Barrack Yard Advisors in Bryn Mawr, Pa. "A slowdown in Asia growth, the European crisis . . . and the U.S. 'fiscal cliff.' "
Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 42.76 points at 13,207.95. The S&P 500 rose 3.07 to 1,405.87. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.22 to 3,020.86.
Manchester United, the white-hot British soccer club, had a lethargic debut as a public company. The stock closed exactly where it opened, at $14, likely a sign that investors are worried about its heavy debts.
A few stocks did make big moves. J.C. Penney jumped 6 percent, rising $1.30 to $23.40, after CEO Ron Johnson laid out more of his vision for turning around the struggling department store company. Lions Gate, the movie and TV studio, gained 21 cents to $13.46, after reporting a revenue surge thanks to The Hunger Games.