Late stum­ble closes out mixed week for in­dexes

Quar­terly re­sults, wait for stim­u­lus led to choppy ses­sions

The Morning Call - - Business - By Alex Veiga

Wall Street closed out a choppy week of trad­ing with more of the same Fri­day, as a late-af­ter­noon stum­ble led U.S. stock in­dexes to a mixed fin­ish.

The S&P 500 ended the day a frac­tion of a point higher af­ter a burst of sell­ing erased a 0.9% gain. De­spite a three-day stretch of losses, the bench­mark in­dex still man­aged to fin­ish higher for the week, its third straight weekly gain.

Big Tech and energy com­pa­nies fell while health care and in­dus­trial stocks rose. The Dow Jones In­dus­trial Av­er­age also eked out a gain, while the Nasdaq com­pos­ite posted its fourth straight loss. Trea­sury yields were flat.

The mar­ket had been up for much of the day af­ter the gov­ern­ment re­ported that re­tail sales rose in Septem­ber for the fifth straight month. That re­port ap­peared to over­shadow new data showed U.S. in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion had its weak­est show­ing last month since the spring.

The mar­ket’s late-day fade capped a week of volatil­ity for stocks as com­pa­nies be­gan re­port­ing their third-quar­ter re­sults and traders’ hopes for a new round of eco­nomic stim­u­lus from Wash­ing­ton dimmed.

“The mar­ket is sort of bounc­ing around here,” said Tom Martin, se­nior port­fo­lio man­ager with Glob­alt In­vest­ments. “We’ve had a lot of noise lately and that’s prob­a­bly what we’re go­ing to have over the next cou­ple of weeks.”

The S&P 500 rose 0.47 points to 3,483.81. The Dow gained 112.11 points, or 0.4%, to 28,606.31. At one point, it had been up by 348 points. The Nasdaq fell 42.32 points, or 0.4%, to 11,671.56. The Russell 2000 in­dex of small-cap stocks dropped 5.08 points, or 0.3%, to 1,633.81.

De­spite the mar­ket’s down­beat fin­ish, the ma­jor stock in­dexes have al­ready re­couped most of their losses from Septem­ber’s mar­ket swoon.

Stocks have been mostly climb­ing this month, but trad­ing be­came choppy this week as on­go­ing talks be­tween Democrats and Repub­li­cans on an eco­nomic stim­u­lus pack­age failed to de­liver re­sults. In­vestors have been hop­ing that Wash­ing­ton would pro­vide more fi­nan­cial sup­port for the econ­omy since July, when a $600-a-week ex­tra ben­e­fit for the un­em­ployed ex­pired.

Traders have been watch­ing eco­nomic data closely to see whether the loss of that beefed-up un­em­ploy­ment aid would lead to an over­all pull­back in spend­ing. On Thurs­day, the gov­ern­ment’s said the num­ber of Americans seek­ing un­em­ploy­ment aid in­creased last week to 898,000, a his­tor­i­cally high level that un­der­scores how the econ­omy con­tin­ues to be hob­bled by the pan­demic and re­ces­sion that erupted seven months ago.

Fri­day’s re­tail sales re­port pro­vides some en­cour­age­ment, sug­gest­ing Americans’ ap­petite for spend­ing re­mained solid last month. The Com­merce Depart­ment said re­tail sales rose 1.9% in Septem­ber, the fifth straight monthly in­crease.

“There’s a need for stim­u­lus, even though this data is heart­en­ing in a way,” said Ross May­field, an in­vest­ment strate­gist at Baird.

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