Oct. 18 - Summary of business headlines: Google hits record above $1,000, sending S&P 500 to lifetime high; General Electric sales point to global demand recovery; The rich help Morgan Stanley beat forecasts. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Google was the belle of the ball as it joins the elite club of stocks above a $1,000 price tag. As a member of the S&P 500 it helped send the benchmark to a second record close in a row, with stocks up across the board. For the week, blue chips rallied one percent and the Nasdaq gained 3.2 percent. Google seems to have quieted its critics for now, showing it can stand up to growing competition from Facebook and Yahoo. The company's online ad sales surged to their highest growth rate in the past year - and that's despite getting paid less per ad. The more than $1,000 stock price brings Google's market cap just under $296 billion, making Google the third most valuable company - only behind Apple and ExxonMobil. Corporate results also lifted sentiment....General Electric says it has a record backlog of orders, suggesting global demand is recovering for its products ranging from airplane engines to other industrial equipment. Honeywell, however, lowered guidance due to exposure to the defense sector. Morgan Stanley rounds out the earnings picture. The Wall Street firm beat forecasts as strength in equity trading and its business to the rich offset the industry-wide hit from fixed income trading. Looking at all three stocks: GE rallied to a five-year high, Honeywell slumped 2-1/2 percent, while Morgan Stanley jumped to highs not seen since early 2011. JP Morgan Chase is close to sealing up another settlement. According to the Wall Street Journal the bank has reached a tentative $4 billion agreement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency. European stocks finished higher buoyed by data out of China.