The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) had gained a scant two points as of 11:30 a.m. EDT. Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) was the index's biggest gainer, while tech stocks Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK ) and Rackspace (NYSE: RAX ) also surged to the upside.
Consumer confidence disappoints
Data on consumer confidence came in short of expectations early on Friday. The University of Michigan survey produced readings of 73.2 for consumer expectations and 81.8 on consumer sentiment. Economists had anticipated respective readings of 75 and 84.5.
Consumer confidence data isn't considered a vital economic reading, but it does suggest U.S. consumers may be struggling to a greater degree than economists had figured.
Autodesk rises on earnings
Shares of software company Autodesk were up 6% on Friday after the company reported a quarter that was better than what analysts had expected.
Autodesk earned $0.32 per share on revenue of $592.5 million in the first quarter. Analysts had anticipated earnings of $0.21 per share on revenue of about $568.6 million. In the wake of its earnings release, Canaccord reiterated its buy rating and $60 price target.
Rackspace says it might get acquired
In an SEC filing released Thursday afternoon, cloud storage specialist Rackspace said it had been approached by "multiple parties" about a strategic relationship or full-blown "acquisition." Rackspace said its management had hired bankers to weigh the strategic proposals and explore other alternatives.
Once a highflier, Rackspace has come under heavy selling pressure in recent months, and shares are down nearly 8% over the last year. Competition in the cloud space has increased significantly, and Rackspace's business appears threatened by a number of larger competitors.
There's no guarantee that Rackspace will get acquired, but investors appear to be betting on the possibility, with shares up 20% early in Friday's session.
Verizon jumps after Warren Buffett reveals stake
Verizon shares rose more than 2% on Friday, a notable jump for the behemoth telecom stock. The gain comes in the wake of a major disclosure: Warren Buffett has acquired a stake in Verizon worth more than $500 million.
Buffett held his stake in Verizon as of the end of March, but given his propensity to hold positions for long periods of time, it's likely that he's still invested in the telecom giant. Other hedge fund managers, including John Paulson and Dan Loeb, also revealed stakes.
Although blindly following famous investors can often be a recipe for disaster, Buffett's legendary track record ensures that anytime he adds a new position, the market is sure to notice. With a below-market multiple, a solid dividend, and a fairly steady business, Verizon appears to be a typical Buffett pick.
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