US stocks drift in quiet close to win­ning week

Belleville News-Democrat - - News & Obituaries - BY STAN CHOE AND ALEX VEIGA

U.S. stock in­dexes nes­tled a hair lower on Fri­day after the fall­ing price of oil weighed on en­ergy com­pa­nies, but the S&P 500 nev­er­the­less closed out its third straight win­ning week fol­low­ing a bru­tal stretch in De­cem­ber.

It was a day full of bro­ken streaks – oil fell for the first time in two weeks, and the yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note sank to its first loss in more than a week – but the mar­ket re­mained calm through it. Grad­ual moves for mar­kets in re­cent days have of­fered a respite fol­low­ing the tu­mul­tuous trad­ing that rocked in­vestors in late 2018.

“After some of the ini­tial gains we saw ear­lier in the week I think it’s just a rally look­ing tired,” said Wil­lie Del­wiche, in­vest­ment strate­gist at Baird. “I think it’s prob­a­bly not much more than a chance for peo­ple to di­gest the move and try to get a sense of whether we’ve had a bounce – and this is it – or maybe a pause as we con­tinue to move higher.”

The S&P 500 edged down by 0.38 points, or less than 0.1 per­cent, to 2,596.26. Last month, a typ­i­cal day for the in­dex was a swing 10 times that.

The Dow Jones In­dus­trial Av­er­age dipped 5.97 points, or less than 0.1 per­cent, to 23,995.95. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite lost 14.59, or 0.2 per­cent, to 6,971.48, and the Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller stocks ticked up by 1.95, or 0.1 per­cent, to 1,447.38.

It was the first loss for the S&P 500 in six days, and much of the rea­son for it was the fall­ing price of oil. Bench­mark U.S. crude lost 1.9 per­cent to set­tle at $51.59 per bar­rel, and Brent crude, the in­ter­na­tional stan­dard, sank 1.9 per­cent to $60.48 a bar­rel.

That helped pull en­ergy stock in the S&P 500 down 0.6 per­cent, the largest loss among the 11 sec­tors that make up the in­dex. Cono­coPhillips, Marathon Oil and Hess all fell more than 1 per­cent.

Big gains ear­lier in the week meant the S&P 500 was still hang­ing onto a 2.5 per­cent rise for the last five days. The three-week win­ning streak for the S&P 500 is its long­est since Au­gust. Not only that, the last three weeks of gains have all been of more than 1.8 per­cent. The last time that hap­pened was in 2001.

The S&P 500 has been claw­ing back gains since run­ning to the edge of what traders call a “bear mar­ket,” when it dropped 19.8 per­cent be­tween set­ting a record in Septem­ber and a low on Christ­mas Eve. Stocks have climbed on sooth­ing words from the Fed­eral Reserve about the fu­ture path of in­ter­est rates, plus hopes that the U.S.China trade dis­pute may ease. That’s helped to at least pa­per over wor­ries about slow­ing growth for cor­po­rate earn­ings and the pos­si­bil­ity of a loom­ing re­ces­sion.

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