In­dexes close week with a droop

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - MAR­KET RE­PORT MARLEY JAY

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks fin­ished barely lower Fri­day as en­ergy com­pa­nies fell with oil prices and a 10-day rally for tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies came to an end. But Wall Street mostly avoided the sharp losses that hit Euro­pean stocks.

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex fell 0.91 point to 2,472.54. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age dipped 31.71 points, or 0.1 per­cent, to 21,580.07. Ear­lier it shed as many as 108 points. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite fell 2.25 points to 6,387.75. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller-com­pany stocks sank 6.52 points, or 0.5 per­cent, to 1,435.84. Still, all four in­dexes re­main near record highs.

The price of U.S. crude oil fell 2.5 per­cent and pulled en­ergy stocks lower. Tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies slipped, end­ing their long­est win­ning streak in more than two years.

In­vestors bought gov­ern­ment bonds in the U.S. and Europe, which sent prices higher and yields lower. With yields down, in­vestors who wanted in­come bought shares in com­pa­nies that pay big div­i­dends, such as util­i­ties and house­hold goods mak­ers.

Euro­pean stocks took sharp losses af­ter Reuters re­ported that the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank will con­sider par­ing back its stim­u­lus pro­grams in late Oc­to­ber. In­dexes in France, Ger­many and Italy all fell, and so did the blue chip Euro Stoxx 50 in­dex.

“Europe is the econ­omy that makes peo­ple the most ner­vous,” said JJ Ki­na­han, chief mar­ket strate­gist at TD Amer­i­trade. “It’s one that is still be­ing treated with cau­tion.”

Shares of Gen­eral Elec­tric skid­ded af­ter it dis­ap­pointed in­vestors by say­ing it ex­pects to reach only the low end of its an­nual profit forecast range. GE said its power unit strug­gled in the sec­ond quar­ter and low oil prices are also hurt­ing its busi­ness.

The stock fell 78 cents, or 2.9 per­cent, to $25.91. It’s down 18 per­cent this year. Also fall­ing was oil­field ser­vices com­pany Baker Hughes, which is com­bined with GE’s oil and gas unit this month and is now mostly owned by GE. It shed 85 cents, or 2.4 per­cent, to $34.12.

Baker Hughes was one of a horde of en­ergy com­pa­nies that fell with oil prices. Bench­mark U.S. crude fell $1.15 to $45.77 a bar­rel in New York. Brent crude, the stan­dard for in­ter­na­tional oil prices, shed $1.24, or 2.5 per­cent, to $48.06 a bar­rel in Lon­don.

Soft­ware gi­ant Mi­crosoft’s fourth-quar­ter profit and sales sur­passed Wall Street es­ti­mates as the com­pany posted an­other round of strong re­sults from its cloud com­put­ing busi­ness. How­ever, its stock dipped 43 cents to $73.79.

Also fall­ing was chip­maker Texas In­stru­ments, which fell 99 cents, or 1.2 per­cent, to $81.70. E-com­merce com­pany eBay fell 57 cents, or 1.2 per­cent, to $36.61. Pay­ment pro­ces­sor Visa added $1.49, or 1.5 per­cent, to $99.60 af­ter its lat­est re­port showed its pur­chase of Visa Europe a year ago is strength­en­ing its busi­ness.

Still, a 10-day run for the Nas­daq and tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies came to an end. The S&P 500 tech­nol­ogy in­dex climbed more than 6 per­cent over that time and reached record highs. The rally was as­sisted by the weak­en­ing dol­lar, which helps sales and earn­ings over­seas. In­vestors also bet that tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies would have an­other round of strong quar­terly earn­ings.

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