Wall Street climbs on GE divestment, buyback plan

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(Apr 10): U.S. stocks climbed on Friday as investors lauded GE's decision to divest the bulk of its high-risk GE Capital business and on its share repurchase plan.

The S&P Industrials was up 1.5 percent as the best performing of the 10 major S&P sectors, paced by GE's gain.

General Electric jumped 7.6 percent to $27.69 as the most active stock on the New York Stock Exchange, with more than 236 million shares changing hands. The advance came after GE said there was potential to return more than $90 billion to investors through 2018.

"The GE deal is very transformative. The stock has been under-owned by institutional investors and that's going to change now," said Tom Donino, co-head of equity trading at First New York Securities.

GE will sell the bulk of its $30 billion real estate portfolio over the next two years as it returns to its industrial roots, with Blackstone and Wells Fargo snapping up most of its assets. Blackstone shares were up 1.9 at $39.99 and Wells Fargo shares inched up 0.2 percent to $54.33.

In another real estate deal, Excel Trust was up 14.2 percent at $15.81 after it said it would be bought by Blackstone Group for about $2 billion.

"The real estate market will appreciate as long as the rates remain low or rise marginally which points towards a bullish market," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 90.5 points, or 0.5 percent, to 18,049.23, the S&P 500 gained 9.84 points, or 0.47 percent, to 2,101.02 and the Nasdaq Composite added 16.68 points, or 0.34 percent, to 4,991.25.

The S&P 500 is up 1.6 percent for the week and is on track for a second week of gains, helped by a pickup in merger activity. Investors are also bracing for corporate results after earnings season kicked off earlier this week.

Data Friday showed import prices for March declined 0.3 percent, as expected.

Consumers flocked to Apple Inc stores around the world to take in the new Apple Watch. Reviews have been mixed, however, and shares initially fell before rebounding to trade up slightly at $126.65.

Citrix Systems shares fell 2.7 percent to $62.88 after the cloud-computing software maker cut its first-quarter forecast for earnings and revenue.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,843 to 1,036, for a 1.78-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,616 issues rose and 959 fell for a 1.69-to-1 ratio.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 17 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 74 new highs and 11 new lows.