After Market: Stocks Rise, S&P 500 Sets Another Record

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Stocks posted solid gains on Thursday as investors ignored a weak economic report.

First quarter gross domestic product was revised to show the economy contracted 1 percent in the first three months of the year. But investors say that's old news. The horrible winter weather was a huge drag on growth, and economists say there's no chance that we're heading into another recession. In fact, most economists expect solid growth in the current quarter.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 65 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 22, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 10 points, scoring its third record high in four days.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Earlier this month Hillshire Brands (HSH) offered to buy Pinnacle Foods (PF). Then two days ago, Pilgrims Pride (PPC) jumped in to break up that deal with a $6.4 billion bid for Hillshire. Now, Tyson Foods (TSN) has started a bidding war with a $6.8 billion offer for Hillshire, which is best known for its Jimmy Dean and Hillshire brands.

Shares of Hillshire jumped 17 percent today. They've soared 45 percent in the past week. As for the other players in this food fight: Tyson gained 6 percent, Pilgrims Pride fell 1 percent, and Pinnacle gained 1 percent.

Moving from what we eat to what we wear, Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) jumped nearly 6 percent as its quarterly loss wasn't as bad as expected. But the stock is still down about 26 percent from a year ago.

Other movers:
  • Costco (COST) was little changed even though earnings came in slightly below expectations.
  • Michael Kors (KORS) fell 5 percent on new worries that its profit margins may weaken.
  • Tilly's (TLYS) tumbled 17 percent on a weak outlook for the current quarter.
Elsewhere, cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (PANW) rose 5 percent after beating expectations. In addition, it will receive $175 million from Juniper Networks (JNPR) in a settlement of a patent suit.

Finally, J.P. Morgan (JPM) is swapping its ratings on a pair of leading biotech stocks. It raised the rating on Biogen Idec (BIIB) to "overweight," lifting the stock by 3.5 percent, but cut Celgene (CELG) to "neutral." Celgene fell by less than 1 percent.

What to Watch Friday:
  • The Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for April at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The Institute For Supply Management-Chicago releases its survey of business conditions in the Chicago area for May at 9:45 a.m.
  • The University of Michigan releases its final survey of consumer sentiment for May at 9:55 a.m.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
  • Ann Inc. (ANN)
  • Big Lots (BIG)
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

7 Simple Habits to Save a Pretty Penny (or $100)
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After Market: Stocks Rise, S&P 500 Sets Another Record
Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule? As a frugal guy, this is one of my favorite rules in spending. If you’re about to spend any more than $20 on something that is unnecessary, don’t. Instead, put the item down and wait 30 days to buy it. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by not making unnecessary frivolous purchases.
I literally mean freeze your credit cards. It seems a bit extreme, but think of it this way. The average credit card comes with a 13 percent or higher interest rate. By simply not using credit cards as often, you’ll save a ton. So, get a plastic sandwich bag and put your credit cards in it. Fill it with water, zip it up and throw it in the freezer. Without easy access to those tempting pieces of plastic, you probably won’t use them as much. However, they’ll still be around -- in an emergency, you can retrieve them from the ice.
Have you ever looked around your house, seen a few items and thought, “I could have made that!” You probably could have. The only thing is, you didn’t. Instead you paid for it. From now on, before you buy something you think you can make on your own, give it a shot. I saved a little over a hundred bucks about two weeks ago. I needed a new bird cage for my fiancé’s doves. Instead of buying a cage for $200, I made one that was far bigger for less than $80.
Did you know that a clean air filter in your car can lead to 7 percent more fuel efficiency? That means at current gas prices, with a clean air filter, you’ll save about $100 a year, if you drive the average 10,000 miles.
How often on the way home from the office do you want to stop for a convenient quick meal? You’ve had a long day, and it feels justified. But it costs much more than a home-cooked meal. The answer is your slow cooker. Use it to prepare your meal in the morning on days you know will be rough. This way, you can skip the fast food and rush home to an already ready home-cooked meal.

Do you pay a maintenance fee for your bank account? Why? Tons of banks offer checking and savings accounts without them. Look to your local credit union or even switch to an online bank. When comparing your options, also look at the interest you can earn. Currently, I get about 3 percent on checking and about 3.4 percent on savings, but who knows what kind of great deals you can find?

I’ve had tons of options to sign up for customer rewards programs and I was just too busy. So, I didn’t sign up. Then one day, I realized that I was paying for rewards I wasn’t getting. The cost of the rewards obviously trickles down to the end consumer. So, if the end consumer doesn’t take part, he or she loses money in the process. Since I’ve signed up for every reward program around me, I’ve saved at least 20 or 30 bucks a month in rewards.

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