By Corrie Driebusch 

The Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 hit record highs as strong earnings and healthy growth in gross domestic product buoyed stocks across the board.

Twitter Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and McDonald's Corp. rose Friday after upbeat earnings reports this week.

Google's parent, Alphabet Inc., helped lead stocks higher with a banner day, surging after it reported a jump in revenue for its latest quarter and authorized a buyback. It added a staggering $79 billion in market value, rising $109.28, or 9.6%, to $1,245.22. That was the company's best single-day percentage gain in years and its biggest dollar gain ever.

Alphabet boosted its market capitalization to more than $860 billion, according to FactSet, adding roughly the value of Morgan Stanley in just a day. Alphabet's market-cap addition was larger than the individual market values of all but 72 other companies in the S&P 500. The company also blew past options traders' forecasts for a post-earnings move.

Analysts said the strength of the U.S. consumer, evident in some of the latest financial results and economic data, as well as expectations that the Federal Reserve will soon cut interest rates, has helped nudge stocks higher. Cooling trade tensions also helped lift stocks this week after news that U.S. negotiators would travel to Shanghai to resume formal negotiations on trade.

Data released early Friday showed that gross domestic product grew at a 2.1% annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said, narrowly above the 2% expected by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. The figure was boosted by U.S. shoppers, as consumer spending, which makes up more than two-thirds of the economy, posted the strongest pace of growth since late 2017.

"The [GDP] report should give people comfort...that the consumer is doing well," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance. "The U.S. economy continues to be on a stronger footing than the rest of the world."

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 22.19 points, or 0.7% to 3025.86, notching its 13th record of the year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 91.67 points, or 1.1%, to 8330.21, its 10th record of 2019. And the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 51.47 points, or 0.2%, to 27192.45.

All three major U.S. indexes finished the week with gains, with the S&P up 1.7%, the Dow Jones up 0.1% and the Nasdaq up 2.3%.

The communication-services sector was the best performer of the S&P 500's 11 groups Friday, increasing more than 3% and lifted by Twitter and Alphabet, its biggest gainers. Twitter shares soared after it reported strong user and revenue growth in its second quarter. The social-media company's stock jumped $3.40, or 8.9%, to $41.52.

Investors have been watching tech heavyweights this earnings season as Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and Inc. have helped to drive the S&P 500's record run this year. Big money managers have increased their stakes in these types of companies, which have been some of the best performers.

So far in 2019, tech companies have been winners as investors look for growth. The S&P 500 tech sector has risen 33% since the end of 2018, outpacing the broader index's 21% gain in the same period.

Alphabet's massive gain Friday didn't manage to move it up the list of the biggest companies -- it remained fourth in the S&P 500, behind Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. Its jump Friday came after it was the worst-performing tech company valued above $100 billion this year heading into its earnings report.

As market volatility recedes and stocks continue their ascent, some analysts and investors said they expected greater gains for equities. Friday's data underscored the strength of the U.S. economy, analysts said. Now, many are preparing for the Fed to cut interest rates and provide a boost. The central bank meets next week.

"I think overall, the market's headed higher into year-end," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W. Baird & Co.

Write to Corrie Driebusch at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 26, 2019 19:26 ET (23:26 GMT)

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