Los Angeles Times

Stocks fall on weak earnings reports


The U.S. stock market capped a four-day losing streak with its biggest drop of the week.

Disappoint­ing quarterly results and outlooks from several companies pulled the major stock indexes sharply lower Friday. New signs pointing to a slowing of China’s economy also added to investor jitters, bringing down the price of oil and other commoditie­s.

While corporate profits have mostly exceeded Wall Street’s expectatio­ns so far this earnings season, investors have grown uneasy as many companies provided cautious outlooks or weak sales. “The revenue numbers have been very shaky,” said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade’s chief strategist. “After next week, we’ll have a much better picture overall how the earnings season was. But right now, that’s the theme that I’m seeing, and it’s not a healthy one.”

The mixed company earnings increasing­ly weighed on stocks as the week wore on. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has now lost ground four out of the last five weeks.

The S&P 500 ended the day down 22.50 points, or 1.1%, to 2,079.65, while the Dow Jones industrial average slid 163.39 points, or 0.9%, to 17,568.53. The Nasdaq composite lost 57.78 points, or 1.1%, to 5,088.63.

Stocks kicked off the week on a strong note, driving the Nasdaq to its latest record high and bringing the S&P 500 close to a milestone of its own. But it’s been downhill since then. The Dow fell into negative territory for the year on Thursday. As of Friday, it was down 1.4% for 2015.

The tech-focused Nasdaq remains the bestperfor­ming index for the year. It’s up 7.4%, compared with 1% for the S&P 500.

Investors did welcome Amazon’s latest quarterly report card. The e-commerce pioneer announced a surprise profit late Thursday. The stock vaulted $47.24, or 9.8%, to $529.42.

Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 ended lower. Healthcare stocks fell the most, 2.5%. Utilities edged higher.

Of the 187 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, about 72% of them have delivered results that beat Wall Street estimates, according to S&P Capital IQ. That’s better than the historical average of 66%. “Generally most companies are seeing modest growth, but nothing to write home about,” said Brad Sorensen, managing director of market and sector analysis at Schwab Center for Financial Research.

Another 163 companies, or a third of the S&P 500, are due to report earnings next week, including Facebook, Twitter and Exxon Mobil.

In energy trading, the price of oil continued to slide Friday as the number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. rose. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 31 cents to close at $48.14 a barrel in New York. Crude fell 5% for the week, and is down 19% for the month. Brent crude fell 65 cents Friday to close at $54.62 a barrel in London.

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