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Stocks Trade Higher Ahead of News-Heavy Weekend

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Today's financial recap and tomorrow's financial outlook.

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Stocks posted gains on Friday as the biotech sector heated up.

The NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NBI) climbed past the 3,000 level for the first time ever, finishing up 1.8% at 3,020.25. The sector was boosted by Gilead (GILD), which rose 3.3% after the release of sales data for its Harvoni Hepatitis C treatment.

The boom in biotech boosted the Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV), which was up 1.4%, making it the best performer among the major S&P sector ETF's.

And just as the market fell late yesterday on an Ebola scare in New York City, it benefited today after Ebola sufferer Nina Pham was declared cured of the disease. 

By day's end, the S&P 500 (SPX) was 0.7% higher at 1,964.58.

That mark was slightly above Thursday's intraday high, and just below the widely-watched 50-day moving average, which sits at 1,966.94.

The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) aided the bulls' case with a 0.8% gain, aided by Procter & Gamble's (PG) 2.3% post-earnings rally. Procter's earnings were slightly below expectations, but investors were encouraged by its decision to divest its Duracell battery business, which should boost growth.
 
Index heavyweight Microsoft (MSFT) was another force in the upward action, rising 2.5% on its surprisingly strong fiscal first-quarter results.

On the negative side, the Russell 2000 (RUT) underperformed, up just 0.2%. And energy stocks were in the red as oil prices slid.

Key momentum name Amazon.com (AMZN) fell 8.3% after announcing disappointing third-quarter results and fourth-quarter guidance after the close Thursday. Fellow Internet play Pandora (P) also took a major post-earnings hit as user metrics disappointed Wall Street.

On the economics front, New Home Sales rose to 467,000, slightly missing the 470,000 consensus. August's figure was revised down to 466,000 from 504,000.

Monday's Financial Outlook

September Pending Home Sales will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.

A host of companies will report earnings Monday, including Merck (MRK), Seagate Technology (STX), and Franklin Resources (BEN) before the open, and Amgen (AMGN), Hartford Financial (HIG), and Twitter (TWTR) after the close.

There is a fair amount of headline risk this weekend. This includes geopolitical news out of the Middle East and Russia/Ukraine, Ebola, and Brazil's Presidential election, which will be held this Sunday.

Any of these items could impact stock and commodity prices Monday.

Twitter: @Minyanville

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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