U.S. Stocks Rise As S&P 500 Index Gains
Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesTraders at work Friday on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Nasdaq composite and S&P 500 chalked up record high closes Friday, propelled by strong results from tech behemoths Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

The Nasdaq composite added 0.7 percent to end at 5,092.09, its second straight record high close. The S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent to a record high close of 2,117.69 points, barely above its previous high of 2,117.39 set on March 2.

Amazon.com (AMZN) surged 14.1 percent to a lifetime high after revenue beat estimates.

Google (GOOGL) ended 2.9 percent after reporting higher quarterly results while Microsoft (MSFT) jumped 10.5 percent after it topped estimates.

This chapter that the Nasdaq is writing is more suggestive that it’s a market that, while still technology-weighted, is much more mature.

The S&P had hit an intraday high of 2,120.92. The Nasdaq earlier reached 5,100.371, the highest since its intraday record of 5,132.52 in March 2000 that marked the peak of the dot-com bubble.

“This chapter that the Nasdaq is writing is more suggestive that it’s a market that, while still technology-weighted, is much more mature,” said Steven Baffico, chief executive officer at Four Wood Capital Partners in New York. “The companies in it reflect that, companies like Cisco and Microsoft.”

Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Starbucks (SBUX) accounted for the bulk of the Nasdaq’s rise Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) closed up 21.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,080.14. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) gained 4.76 points and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 36.02 points.

For the week, the S&P gained 1.8 percent, the Nasdaq gained 3.3 percent and the Dow added 1.4 percent.

“This is a case of the equity market looking a little bit forward to oil being less of a drag going forward, and that earnings in the second half will be better than they are now,” said Anthony Valeri, an investment strategist for LPL Financial in San Diego.

Earnings Season

While markets are at record highs, March-quarter earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to slip 1.3 percent, with revenues dropping 3.5 percent as the dollar hurts U.S. multinationals and low oil prices affect energy companies, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Xerox (XRX) slumped 8.8 percent after it cut its 2015 profit forecast, blaming the strong dollar.

Time Warner Cable (TWC) jumped 4.4 percent on news Charter Communications’ (CHTR) representatives reached out to begin discussions on a potential merger. Comcast (CMCSK) earlier abandoned its proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable.

Apple (AAPL) could be among the biggest market drivers when it reports results after the bell Monday. Results next week from several big energy names, including Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX), could keep investors on edge.

Wall Street may get new clues on the timing of an interest rate hike when the Federal Reserve issues a statement following its two-day meeting Wednesday.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 1,532 to 1,426, for a 1.07-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,456 issues fell and 1,246 advanced, for a 1.17-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq composite recorded 88 new highs and 19 new lows.

About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, on par with the daily average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Markets.


What to watch Monday:

Earnings Season
These selected companies are scheduled to releaser quarterly financial results:

American Financial Group (AFG)
Apple (AAPL)
Canon (CAJ)
Churchill Downs (CHDN)
Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG)
J & J Snack Foods (JJSF)
Kyocera Corp. (KYO)
Lab Corp. (LH)
Plantronics (PLT)
Rent-A-Center (RCII)
Restaurant Brands International (QSR)
Roper Industries (ROP)
Tenneco (TEN)

If you’re flexible and love the sheer adventure of travel, you’ll also love Kayak’s Explore tool as much as I do. It instantly maps all airfares available within your specified budget to destinations worldwide. You enter the month or season you want to travel — and the maximum amount you have to spend on a ticket — and it shows you all the places you can fly to for that amount or less. You can even search by the activities or weather you’re looking for in a destination. I think that Kayak Explore should be the first stop when planning a true travel adventure.
1. Start with a cheap flight

The best travel agent you can have isn’t a travel agent at all, but rather someone who lives in the place you want to visit. Sure, it would be great if they invited you to stay with them, but just their knowledge and advice can save you a bundle and help you really enjoy and get to know a place. Thanks to the internet, you can now get to know someone almost any place on the planet before you even leave home. Social network sites like TravBuddy.com, BeWelcome.org, WAYN.com and Couchsurfing.com can put you in touch with people living in the places you’ll be traveling to, as well as fellow travelers.
2. Stay, eat and shop where the locals do

In the spring and fall, many cruise ship companies "reposition" their fleets to different parts of the world to meet seasonal market demands. For example, ships that have been cruising during the winter months off the coast of Central and South America might head north for the summer cruising season in Alaska.

That means flexible travelers can go along on a one-way ride for a fraction of the cost per day compared to most regular cruises. Of course, you’ll have to find your own way home — or maybe just hang out at the terminus point for six months and catch a repositioning cruise in the opposite direction in the fall.
3. Look for repositioning cruises

Putting in a few hours of work during your travels can not only score you a free place to stay (and maybe some meals, too), but it can be an interesting experience and a good way to meet locals and fellow travelers alike. Websites like Workaway.info and Helpx.net list part-time, (usually) unpaid work opportunities all around the world that can nicely fit a flexible traveler’s schedule, lifestyle and budgetary limitations.

And by joining Trustedhousesitters.com, you’re eligible to apply for housesitting gigs worldwide, giving you a free place to stay in exchange for watching over someone’s house (and, usually, their pets) while they’re away.
4. Consider a working vacation

With most airlines now charging a fortune for checked bags, keeping luggage to a minimum is a must. Plus, I’ve always found that traveling light makes for a more enjoyable trip. My packing rule is simple: Unless you know that you’re absolutely going to need and use an item, don’t bring it with you if it’s something that you can buy during your travels, should the need arise. Pack your bags a couple of days before you leave home, and then drive to a shopping mall and haul them around for an hour or so (or until the mall cops stop you); I’ll bet after that you’ll discover at least a few things you can just as soon leave at home. And after your trip, "audit your luggage," making a note of things you regret having brought with you so you won’t make the same mistake next time.
5. Test-drive your luggage

If you’re going to drive a long distance in a relatively short period of time, in the long run the most cost-effective option might be to rent a car rather drive your own. Since most rental car companies offer unlimited mileage, when you factor in the cost of wear and tear on your own car (i.e. "reduced lifespan"), renting a car is usually the best option for trips where you’ll drive, say, a thousand or more miles during a week.

Plus, you might be able to rent a car that’s more fuel-efficient than your own, saving even more. And remember that the insurance coverage you carry on your own car probably covers you when you rent a car for non-business use, so you can skip the expensive insurance offered by the rental company (but check your insurance policy first, just to make sure).
6. Rent a car rather than drive your own

Picking up snacks at gas stations and convenience stores as you travel can add up to a very unappetizing expense during the course of even a short road trip. Instead, stock up on drinks and snacks before you leave home or at grocery stores during your travels. Even if you’re flying somewhere, investing in an inexpensive cooler once you’ve arrived at your destination is almost guaranteed to more than pay for itself while you’re there. And if you imbibe, don’t forget to BYOB ("Bring Your Own Booze"); the markup on beer, wine and liquor in most bars and restaurants — even in non-touristy areas – is typically 400 percent or more.
7. Remember the ice chest

If I buy souvenirs at all during my travels, I always look for something that’s practical — something that I’ll actually  — rather than waste money on some tourist tchotchke that will immediately go into cold storage as soon as I get home. Clothing, food delicacies, artwork/home décor items or a CD of local music are among my favorite souvenirs. And I always check out thrift stores, flea markets and even yard sales when I travel, which are great places to finding interesting local items for dirt cheap. I once bought a ceramic wall hanging at a thrift store in Los Angeles for $8, which turned out to be by a deceased California artist and appraised at $1,400 when I got it home.
8. Buy first-rate, secondhand souvenirs

When I travel by car, I often take my own bicycle with me, and when I fly someplace where I plan to stay for at least a few days, one of my first stops is at a local thrift store to pick up an inexpensive used bike. I can’t even begin to calculate how much this has saved me in taxi fares, car rentals, and even public transportation over the years. Plus, it’s a great way to get to see and know a place, while squeezing in a little workout at the same time.

And when it’s time to fly home, you can either donate the bike back to the thrift store for a tax deduction, or maybe make some kid’s day by asking him if he wants a free bike.
9. Buy a used bike when you arrive

Other than maybe an airline ticket, chances are that lodging will be most travelers’ single largest expense. Use websites like Airbnb.com, VRBO.com and Booking.com to find privately owned apartments, homes and rooms for rent; most include access to a fully equipped kitchen, so you can save even more by cooking some of your own meals.

Hostels (HIUSA.org) provide inexpensive dorm-style accommodations — although many now offer private rooms as well — and are open to travelers of all ages. And register with Couchsurfing.com to tap into a worldwide network of fellow travelers who will let you crash on their couch (or often in a spare bedroom) for free!
‚Äč10. Think alternative lodgings

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