U.S. stocks moved higher in early trading Friday, on course to build on solid gains in a week when the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at record highs two days in a row. In the absence of any major new U.S. economic news, investors had their eye on a few corporate quarterly earnings and developments with the conflict in Iraq.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,962 in the first 45 minutes of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average added 35 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,957. The Nasdaq composite gained three points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,363.
NEW HIGHS: The S&P 500 index notched an all-time high for the second day in a row Thursday. The index is up 6.1 percent this year and on track to gain 1.2 percent for the week.
SMOOTH RIDE: CarMax shares vaulted 15 percent after the used car dealership operator reported a 16 percent jump in first-quarter earnings, easily beating Wall Street estimates. The stock gained $6.84 to $52.11. Shares in rival AutoNation rose $1.59, or 2.8 percent, to $58.10.
DISAPPOINTS: Oracle sank 5.3 percent after the software maker reported disappointing quarterly earnings late Thursday. One financial analyst covering the company, Citigroup's Walter Pritchard, stripped Oracle of his "buy" rating and reduced his price target on the stock to $41 from $44. Oracle's shares slumped $2.32 to $40.20.
MISSED: Darden Restaurants said its quarterly profit plunged 35 percent, dragged down by charges tied to its plan to overhaul its business. The company plans to sell its Red Lobster restaurants to the investment firm Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion. The quarterly results fell short of analysts' forecasts, and Darden's shares tumbled $1.62, or 3.3 percent, to $47.90.
OVER THERE: Major stock markets in Europe edged higher. France's CAC 40 rose 0.1 percent, while Germany's DAX added 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British stocks gained 0.4 percent.
BONDS: U.S. government bonds prices slipped, pushing yields up. The yield on the 10-year note rose to 2.64 percent from 2.62 percent late Thursday.