US STOCKS-Wall St gains as Cyprus fears ease, Nike rallies

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 23, 2013 04:20 hrs

* Cyprus says it is close to a bailout deal

* S&P 500 on track for second negative week of the year

* PepsiCo, Mondelez jump on report of activist investor stake

* Nike shares hit record, Micron at near two-year high

* Dow up 0.6 pct, S&P 500 up 0.7 pct, Nasdaq up 0.7 pct

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, March 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks bounced back on Friday on hopes a deal to bail out Cyprus was near completion.

A nearly 12 percent jump in Nike shares a day after the maker of athletic shoes and apparel posted results lifted the consumer discretionary sector of the S&P 500, which led the benchmark's gains. The sector's index was up 1.1 percent.

Cyprus was close to a deal to raise billions of euros and unlock a bailout from the European Union that could avert a financial meltdown and its exit from the euro, its ruling party said.

The FTSEurofirst-300 index of pan-European stocks dipped 0.1 percent, while Wall Street advanced in Friday's session. But the three major U.S. stock indexes were down for the week, with Cyprus weighing on markets since Monday.

The lingering concern among investors is that were Cyprus to leave the euro zone, it would open the door for other larger countries to follow suit and debilitate the bloc.

The worry "is the psychological knock-on effect of the credible possibility of some (country) saying 'Cyprus got out, now they are on their own, they devalued their currency, they don't have to go through austerity'," said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York.

"What is going to stop Greece from doing the same thing? And you start a daisy chain."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 83.72 points or 0.58 percent, to 14,505.21. The S&P 500 gained 10.02 points or 0.65 percent, to 1,555.82. The Nasdaq Composite added 21.06 points or 0.65 percent, to 3,243.66.

The S&P 500 is still on track to post only its second weekly decline so far this year. Although the index was down a modest 0.3 percent, it was also the largest weekly percentage decline since the last week of 2012.

Nike's shares hit an all-time high a day after its quarterly profit beat Wall Street's expectations as margins increased and global future demand for its apparel and shoes rose. Shares topped at $60.23 and were last up 11.2 percent at $59.62.

Tiffany & Co reported a slightly higher profit for the quarter that included the holiday season, and said the pace of its worldwide sales growth would pick up this year. Tiffany's stock gained 2.5 percent to $69.61.

Shares of food makers Mondelez International and PepsiCo rose on Friday after a UK newspaper reported that activist shareholder Nelson Peltz has been building stakes in both companies.

Mondelez rose 5.2 percent to $30.03. PepsiCo gained 4 percent to $79.17.

Micron Technology posted a quarterly net loss on Thursday, but the chipmaker said the outlook for memory chip prices is improving. The stock gained 12.2 percent to $10.18, its highest in almost two years.

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