Stocks reach new highs as investors look to Fed

U.S. equities finished modestly higher Friday, with major indexes scoring gains for the week to end at their highest levels in years as lackluster August jobs data fueled speculation that the Federal Reserve may start another round of monetary stimulus.

“The recent market rally has been the result of massive short-covering and anticipation of more liquidity courtesy of the Fed,” said Jeffrey Sica, president and chief investment officer of Sica Wealth Management. “The jobs report of today reinforces the likelihood of more economic stimulus being initiated in the September meeting.”

But “the market celebration will be short-lived as investors question whether another round of money printing is too little or too late to help the economy,” he added.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.64 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,306.64. The blue-chip benchmark closed at its highest level since December 2007, with a 1.7 percent gain for the week.

The S&P 500 index rose 5.8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,437.92, closing up 2.2 percent from a week ago. It marked its highest close since January 2008.

“While it looks like stocks didn’t move all that much, underneath the averages there is a lot of bullish price action under way,” said Michael Gayed, chief investment strategist at Pension Partners LLC.

The Nasdaq composite index inched up 0.61 point to 3,136.42, tacking on 2.3 percent for the week to log its highest finish since November 2000. Shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. jumped 13 percent after Lazard Capital started coverage on the stock with a “buy” rating.

Scotts agrees to big fines for pesticide violations

Federal authorities say Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. will pay $12.5 million for violating federal pesticide laws.

The lawn and garden company, based in Marysville, Ohio, was sentenced Friday in federal court to pay $4 million for criminal violations. It also will pay over $6 million in civil penalties and spend $2 million on environmental projects in a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Scotts pleaded guilty to applying toxic insecticide to its wild bird food products, falsifying pesticide registrations, distributing pesticides with misleading and unapproved labels and distributing unregistered pesticides.

The company says it has made changes to improve regulatory compliance.

Scotts shares rose 59 cents to close at $43.21.

American’s regional partner settles with flight attendants

Flight attendants at American Eagle, the regional-flying sister to American Airlines, overwhelmingly approved a new labor contract.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said Friday that 87 percent of the employees approved the new contract with the subsidiary of AMR Corp., which is trying to cut labor costs while under bankruptcy protection.

The union said Eagle made “substantial improvements” over the company’s original demand for concessions. It won wage increases and preserved work rules, it said.

— From news service reports