A late-afternoon buying spree lifted the Dow Jones industrial average into record territory Friday. The Dow (^DJI) rose 32 points, edging above the high water mark set last week. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added nearly 3 points, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 20 points.
A number of retail stocks bucked the weakness that was prevalent during most of the day, thanks to better-than-expected sales figures for April. Gap (GPS) led the way, up 3 percent. It also raised its earnings outlook for the first quarter.
J.C. Penney (JCP), Urban Outfitters (URBN) and American Eagle (AEO) also gained about 3 percent.
But Ralph Lauren (RL) dropped 2 percent. Earnings topped expectations but the company warns that expenses will rise in 2014. Over the past year, Ralph Lauren stock is down 19 percent.
And Radio Shack (RSH) fell another 9 percent. It's now trading at just $1.34 a share. The company says it will not close as many stores as planned because of disagreements with some key lenders.
Elsewhere, Apple (AAPL) edged lower on reports it plans to pay more than $3 billion to buy Beats, the maker of fashionable headphones and speakers, and operator of a music streaming service.
AthenaHealth (ATHN) gained nearly 6 percent, but it's been a rough week for the company. Activist investor David Einhorn said he's shorting the stock.
On the earnings scorecard, CBS (CBS) fell 2 percent. Its net rose, but revenue fell -- and that, known as top-line growth -- is the big focus for investors right now.
The digital advertising company Rocket Fuel (FUEL) tumbled 21 percent as net fell short of expectations and the outlook was disappointing.
Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) fell 3 percent, also hurt by a weak outlook.
A pair of tech firms beat expectations. Symantec (SYMC), maker of Norton computer security software, rose 3 percent. And Computer Sciences (CSC) jumped 7 percent.
Finally, 3D printer companies lost another dimension. Stratasys (SSYS) fell 4½ percent after warning that expenses are on the rise. VoxelJet (VJET) and Exone (XONE) also fell. All three have lost a third of their value or more so far this year.
What to Watch Monday:
The Treasury Department releases the federal budget for April at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results
After Market: Late Gains Turn Bearish Day into a Dow Record
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of TheSimpleDollar.com. "Spend some time thinking about how you spend money each day, each week and each month." Do you really need your daily latte? Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week? Ask yourself: What can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much?
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping, advises WiseBread contributor Sabah Karimi. “Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control,” she writes.
If you do a lot of online shopping at one retailer, you may have stored your credit card information on the site to make the checkout process easier. But that also makes it easier to charge items you don't need. So clear that information. "If you’re paying for a recurring service, use a debit card issued from a major credit card service linked to your checking account," Hamm writes.
Reward yourself when you reach debt payoff goals. "The only way to completely pay off your credit card debt is to keep at it, and to do that, you must keep yourself motivated," Bakke writes. Just make sure to reward yourself within reason. For example, instead of a weeklong vacation, plan a weekend camping trip. "If you aim to reduce your credit card debt from $10,000 to $5,000 in two months," Bakke writes, "give yourself more than a pat on the back."
“Establish a budget,” writes Money Crashers contributor David Bakke. “If you don't scale back your spending, you'll dig yourself into a deeper hole." You can use personal finance tools like Mint.com, or make your own Excel spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then scrutinize those budget categories to see where you can cut costs.
Sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. "By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards," writes Mint.com spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.
To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card statements each month. "Paying the minimum -– usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance -– only prolongs a debt payoff strategy," Prabhakar writes. "Strengthen your commitment to pay everything off by making weekly, instead of monthly, payments." Or if your minimum payment is $100, try doubling it and paying off $200 or more.
If you have a high-interest card with a balance that you’re confident you can pay off in a few months, Hamm recommends moving the debt to a card that offers a zero-interest balance transfer. "You’ll need to pay off the debt before the balance transfer expires, or else you’re often hit with a much higher interest rate," he warns. "If you do it carefully, you can save hundreds on interest this way."
Have any birthday gifts or old wedding presents collecting dust in your closet? Look for items you can sell on eBay or Craigslist. "Do some research to make sure you list these items at a fair and reasonable price," Karimi writes. “Take quality photos, and write an attention-grabbing headline and description to sell the item as quickly as possible." Any profits from sales should go toward your debt.
If you receive a job bonus around the holidays or during the year, allocate that money toward your debt payoff plan. "Avoid the temptation to spend that bonus on a vacation or other luxury purchase," Karimi writes. It’s more important to fix your financial situation than own the latest designer bag.