S& P 500 posts 3rd straight weekly gain; Nas­daq falls again

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS -

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 Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 ended the day just 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 health­care 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 f lat.

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

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

The S& P 500 rose 0.47 point 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 f in­ish, the ma­jor in­dexes have al­ready re­couped most of their losses from Septem­ber’s swoon.

Stocks have been mostly climb­ing this month, but trad­ing be­came choppy this week as talks be­tween Democrats and Repub­li­cans on a stim­u­lus pack­age failed to de­liver re­sults. In­vestors have been hop­ing that Wash­ing­ton will pro­vide more 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 said the num­ber of Amer­i­cans seek­ing un­em­ploy­ment aid in­creased last week to 898,000, a his­tor­i­cally high level that un­der­scores how the econ­omy re­mains 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 f ifth straight monthly in­crease. The re­port ini­tially juiced shares in re­tail­ers and other com­pa­nies that rely on con­sumer spend­ing, but most of those gains evap­o­rated by the end of the day.

Other data point to per­sis­tent weak­ness in the econ­omy. The Fed­eral Re­serve said Fri­day that U. S. in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion fell 0.6% last month, the weak­est show­ing since April’s 12.7% skid amid wide­spread busi­ness shut­downs due to the pan­demic. Econ­o­mists had been ex­pect­ing an in­crease.

A surge in new coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions in Europe, the Amer­i­cas and parts of Asia is also giv­ing traders rea­son to turn cau­tious. The new caseloads prompted gov­ern­ments in France and Bri­tain to im­pose new re­stric­tions and con­trib­uted to some of the sell­ing in the mar­ket ear­lier this week.

Across the S& P 500, an­a­lysts are ex­pect­ing com­pa­nies to re­port an­other drop in prof­its for the sum­mer from year- ago lev­els. But they’re fore­cast­ing the de­cline to mod­er­ate from the nearly 32% plunge in the spring, re­flect­ing some signs of im­prove­ment in the econ­omy since then.

An­a­lysts have been rais­ing their third- quar­ter earn­ings fore­casts af­ter low­er­ing them sharply ahead of the sec­ond quar­ter. That means it will be tougher for com­pa­nies re­port­ing re­sults to beat ex­pec­ta­tions.

Sev­eral big com­pa­nies re­port quar­terly re­sults next week, in­clud­ing Netf lix, Coca- Cola, Tesla, South­west Air­lines and Amer­i­can Ex­press.

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