The market had opened higher thanks to strong leads from the US and with stronger oil prices lifting energy stocks. "There seems to be three factors: the banks have just gone ex-dividend, there's been bond market volatility which the banks are quite susceptible to and ongoing capital concerns," he said.
Asian shares rose on Friday after Wall Street set another record high with prospects for a Federal Reserve rate hike in June all but quashed, while the dollar steadied after losing ground to the euro for the first time this week on downbeat US data. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.7 percent with South Korean, Australian and Hong Kong shares posting sizeable gains.
Four of the world's biggest banks agreed Wednesday to pay more than $5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to rigging the currency markets - a rare instance in which federal prosecutors have wrung an admission of criminal wrongdoing from a major financial institution. Traders at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup's banking unit Citicorp, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland were accused of working together to manipulate rates on the foreign exchange market, where hundreds of billions of dollars and euros change hands back and forth.
Gap Inc. reported an 8 percent decline in its first-quarter profit, as results were hurt by currency fluctuations and persistent sluggish sales at its Gap and Banana Republic stores. Gap is among the companies struggling with the impact of the strong dollar as sales in foreign currencies are worth less once they are translated back into the U.S dollars.
An index designed to predict the future health of the economy rose in April by the largest amount in nine months, a sign that the economy is beginning to accelerate from a sharp slowdown during the winter. The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.7 percent last month, the biggest advance since a 1 percent rise last July.
NEW YORK -- Second-quarter earnings could be the catalyst to break the markets out of their narrow trading range , according to one strategist. "Next quarter's earnings will really move the markets," said Kevin Kelly, chief investment strategist at Recon Capital Partners.
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NEW YORK -- Biotech, driven by the demand for effective treatments and new cures, is one of the hottest investment areas today. There has even been speculation of a biotech bubble and speculation can often drive stock movement .