VOL. 41 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 17, 2017
S&P 500 limps to the finish line in another winning week
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks limped to the finish line in another winning week, with indexes turning in a mixed performance on Friday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 3.13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,378.25 on Friday. Gains a couple days earlier fueled by the Federal Reserve meant the index rose 0.2 percent for the week. It's the seventh weekly gain for the S&P 500 in the last eight, and the index is within 1 percent of its record high.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,914.62. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.24 points, or 0.004 percent, to 5,901.00. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 5.49, or 0.4 percent, to 1,391.52. Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
The midweek rally came after the Federal Reserve gave a more measured forecast for interest-rate increases than some investors expected. While raising rates by a quarter of a percentage point, the central bank said that it's still planning a total of three increases this year. That came as a surprise for some investors, who thought four hikes was possible given the pickup in the economy and inflation. Not only did stocks rise following the announcement, but bond yields fell sharply.
"The big focal point for the week was the Fed," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management. "Now that we have that behind us, the rest is window dressing."
Investors are turning their attention to the market's next potential flash points, Jacobsen said, including whether Washington will be able to deliver on promises to cut taxes, boost infrastructure spending and otherwise boost the economy. They're also waiting for upcoming elections in Europe, where investors worry that wins by nationalist candidates could lead to weaker resolve for the European Union to stick together.
Treasury yields dipped, resuming their slide that began with the Fed's announcement. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.50 percent from 2.54 percent late Thursday. The two-year yield dipped to 1.31 percent from 1.34 percent, and the 30-year yield sank to 3.11 percent from 3.15 percent.
Financial stocks fell in sync with bond yields. The two have tended to move in the same direction recently, because higher rates would allow banks to charge more for loans and earn bigger profits. Financial stocks fell 1.1 percent, the largest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500.
Health care stocks were also weak. Amgen had the biggest loss in the S&P 500 after results from a study of its cholesterol drug Repatha disappointed investors. It sank $11.50, or 6.5 percent, to $168.61.
On the other end were dividend-paying stocks, which benefited from the fall in yields. When bonds are paying less in interest, it makes the income provided by dividend-paying stocks more attractive. Utility stocks in the S&P 500, which pay some of the biggest dividends in the index, rose 0.6 percent.
Adobe surged to one of the biggest gains in the index after reporting stronger revenue and earnings for its latest quarter than analysts expected. It jumped $4.66, or 3.8 percent, to $127.01
Jeweler Tiffany sparkled after it also reported better profit than analysts expected for its latest quarter. Strong demand in China and Japan helped it to offset flagging sales at home. Its stock rose $2.44, or 2.7 percent, to $92.42.
In markets abroad, France's CAC 40 stock index rose 0.3 percent, and Germany's DAX and the FTSE 100 in London both added 0.1 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent, South Korea's Kospi rose 0.7 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.1 percent.
Finance leaders from the G-20 industrial and emerging economies are meeting Friday and Saturday in the southern German resort town of Baden-Baden. The first G-20 finance meeting since tough-talking Donald Trump was elected president is likely to focus on concerns over protectionism and currencies.
The euro edged down to $1.0743 from $1.0749 late Thursday, and the British pound rose to $1.2396 from $1.2358. The dollar slipped to 112.70 Japanese yen from 113.26 yen.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 3 cents to settle at $48.78 per barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 2 cents to $51.76 per barrel.
Natural gas rose 5 cents to $2.95 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline inched up less than a cent to $1.60 per gallon, and heating oil rose a fraction of a penny to $1.51 per gallon.
Gold rose $3.10 to settle at $1,230.20 per ounce. Silver added 8 cents to $17.41 per ounce, and copper rose 1 cent to $2.69 per pound.
AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed from Tokyo.