Mar­ket Roundup

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS -

U.S. stock in­dexes edged down Fri­day after the fall­ing price of oil weighed on en­ergy stocks, but the Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 nev­er­the­less notched its third straight win­ning week after 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.

Grad­ual moves for mar­kets in re­cent days have of­fered a respite after 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,” Wil­lie Del­wiche, in­vest­ment strate­gist at Baird, said of Fri­day’s de­clines. “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 0.38 of a point, or less than 0.1%, to 2,596.26. Last month, a typ­i­cal day for the in­dex was a swing 10 times that.

The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age slipped 5.97 points, or less than 0.1%, to 23,995.95. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite fell 14.59, or 0.2%, to 6,971.48, and the Rus­sell 2000 in­dex of smaller stocks ticked up 1.95 points, or 0.1%, to 1,447.38.

The S&P 500’s loss was its first in six days, and much of the rea­son for the slip was the fall­ing price of oil. Bench­mark U.S. crude fell 1.9% to set­tle at $51.59 a bar­rel, and Brent crude, the in­ter­na­tional stan­dard, fell 1.9% to $60.48 a bar­rel.

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

Big up­ward moves ear­lier in the week meant the S&P 500 still had a weekly gain of 2.5%.

The in­dex’s three-week win­ning streak is its long­est since Au­gust. And the last three weeks of gains have each been of more than 1.8%. The last time that hap­pened was in 2001.

The S&P 500 has been claw­ing back gains since run­ning to the edge of a bear mar­ket, when it dropped 19.8% be­tween a record high 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 war may ease. That has helped to at least pa­per over wor­ries about slow­ing growth for cor­po­rate earn­ings and the pos­si­bil­ity of a re­ces­sion.

Com­pa­nies na­tion­wide were gear­ing up to re­port how much profit they made in the last three months of 2018. Ex­pec­ta­tions are for a fifth straight quar­ter of growth that ex­ceeds 10%.

Gen­eral Mo­tors gave an en­cour­ag­ing sign Fri­day: bet­ter-than-ex­pected profit fore­casts for both 2018 and 2019. That helped the au­tomaker’s stock surge 7.1% to $37.18, the big­gest gainer in the S&P 500.

Other big-name com­pa­nies have re­cently of­fered a more dis­cour­ag­ing picture of rev­enue trends, cit­ing slow­ing growth in China and else­where.

That’s why an­a­lysts say this up­com­ing earn­ings re­port­ing sea­son, which kicks off in earnest next week, could be the next trig­ger for volatil­ity in the mar­ket.

Del­wiche says he wants to hear how op­ti­mistic chief ex­ec­u­tives are, given all the un­cer­tain­ties about the econ­omy.

“We’ve seen some re­trench­ment in busi­ness con­fi­dence,” Del­wiche said. “Is it a blip?”

Ac­tivi­sion Bliz­zard sank 9.4% to $46.54 after it and fel­low video game maker Bungie an­nounced a sur­prise ter­mi­na­tion of their part­ner­ship.

The yield on the 10-year Trea­sury note fell to 2.69% from 2.73%.

Gold rose 0.2% to $1,289.50 an ounce. Sil­ver edged up 0.1% to $15.66 an ounce. Cop­per rose 0.9% to $2.66 a pound.

Nat­u­ral gas jumped 4.4% to $3.10 per 1,000 cu­bic feet. Heat­ing oil fell 1.4% to $1.88 a gal­lon. Whole­sale gaso­line slid 2.1% to $1.40 a gal­lon.

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