June 8, 2012 / 4:53 PM / 7 years ago

US STOCKS-Market edges up, focus on possible Spain rescue

* Spain likely to ask European Union for bailout-sources

* McDonald’s sales miss forecast, warns on economy

* Molina Health, Centene lift healthcare stocks

* Chesapeake Energy plans to sell pipeline assets

* Indexes up: Dow 0.4 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.5 pct (Updates to midday, changes byline)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Friday as investors played things close to the vest before the weekend after sources told Reuters Spain was expected to request aid for its troubled banks.

European Union and German sources said euro zone finance ministers were to hold a conference call on Saturday. Spain’s expected request was an effort to stem the tide of worsening market turmoil.

Underscoring the impact of Europe’s debt crisis, McDonald’s Corp reported a lower-than-expected rise in global same-store sales in May and warned austerity measures in Europe were taking a toll. Shares fell 0.9 percent to $87.60, causing one of the biggest drags on the Dow.

“Obviously the apprehension about this weekend is still out there regarding should Spain need some more money for their banks and, of course, the Greek election is next week,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“It’s almost like we are catching our breath, getting ready for next week, which is going to be very heavy on the European front.”

Greece is scheduled to hold a general election that could decide its fate in the euro zone on June 17.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 44.88 points, or 0.36 percent, to 12,505.84. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 4.46 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,319.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 14.96 points, or 0.53 percent, to 2,845.98.

The modest gains put the S&P 500 on track for its best week of the year, due largely in part to a gain of more than 2 percent on Wednesday. The strong gains came after the benchmark index fell more than 6 percent in May and dropped just below its 200-day moving average, signaling a technical bounce for equities.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday that European leaders face an “urgent need to act” to resolve the region’s financial crisis as the threat of a renewed recession there spells dangers for an anemic U.S. recovery. Obama faces a U.S. election in five months.

German imports tumbled at their fastest rate in two years in April, and exports fell more than expected, another sign Europe’s largest economy is not immune from the euro-zone debt crisis.

Molina Healthcare jumped 29 percent to $22.90, recouping nearly all of its losses in the prior session, and Centene Corp jumped 9 percent to $35.83 after the health insurers won contracts to continue as Medicaid plan providers in the state of Ohio. The Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor index jumped 5 percent.

Chesapeake Energy Corp plans to sell its pipeline and related assets to Global Infrastructure Partners in three separate transactions worth more than $4 billion, as the company scrambles to plug an estimated $10 billion funding shortfall.

In addition, shareholders delivered a broad rebuke of the company’s board, withholding support for two members up for re-election in the wake of a governance crisis and poor financial performance. Chesapeake shares edged up 0.5 percent to $17.94. [ID:nL4E8H88RP}

Best Buy Co Inc founder and chairman, Richard Schulze, resigned from the retailer’s board on Thursday and said he was exploring options for his 20.1 percent ownership stake, a move seen as a possible precursor of a Schulze-led private takeover. The shares rose 2.3 percent to $19.98. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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