VOL. 41 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 28, 2017
US stocks close modestly lower, but end higher for the week
By ALEX VEIGA, AP Business Writer
U.S. stocks closed modestly lower Friday, ending just short of another milestone for Wall Street.
The Nasdaq composite index narrowly missed its fourth record-high close this week, though all the major indexes still notched weekly gains.
Phone companies, banks and materials stocks were among the big decliners. Technology stocks gained the most, while health care and energy also bucked the broader market slide. Crude oil prices rose.
Investors continued to focus on company earnings reports as they mine for insight into the health of Corporate America. So far, earnings have been mostly exceeding Wall Street's expectations. But an unimpressive report on economic growth in the first quarter may have given some traders pause Friday.
"The market is worried that the second quarter perhaps will see continued weakness, and that's part of the tug-of-war we're seeing in the market," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. "Are we going to see the economy snapping out of this weak patch?"
The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 4.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,384.20. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,940.51. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.33 points, or 0.02 percent, to 6,047.61.
Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index gave back 16.70 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,400.43. Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
Bond prices edged higher. The 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 2.28 percent from 2.30 percent late Thursday.
The market started the week off on a strong note, in part reflecting relief following the first round of France's presidential election. Results suggest France may not try to break apart from the European Union.
Washington also helped move the market. On Wednesday, White House officials unveiled the broad outlines of a tax plan, stoking expectations of lower taxes, plus less regulation for businesses, policy proposals that have helped drive stocks higher since November.
On Friday, the major stock indexes were flat or down much of the day. Early on, investors weighed the government's initial estimate of economic growth in the first three months of the year.
The Labor Department said that the U.S. economy turned in its weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter, reflecting a slowdown in consumer spending. Growth, as measured by gross domestic product, amounted to 0.7 percent in the first quarter. That was less than what economists were expecting and followed a gain of 2.1 percent in the final quarter of 2016.
Traders also continued to size up company earnings. A little more than half of the companies in the S&P 500 index have reported results for the January-March quarter. Some 55 percent of those turned in earnings and revenue that exceeded Wall Street's expectations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
"Earnings have been topping expectations for the most part, but overall, the market is still nervous about growth and whether or not we're going to see a pickup in economic releases," Krosby said. "The market remains nervous about geopolitical risk and remains nervous about tax reform."
Investors bid up shares in companies that delivered better-than-expected results.
Google's parent company, Alphabet, gained 3.7 percent after the internet giant reported better-than-expected quarterly results thanks partly to a big jump in advertising revenue. The stock added $33.08 to $924.52.
Amazon.com rose 0.7 percent after the online retailer posted solid first-quarter results. The stock picked up $6.61 to $924.99.
Royal Caribbean Cruises gained 6.1 percent after the cruise line operator posted solid earnings and bookings. The stock added $6.10 to $106.60. Rival Carnival also rose, picking up 79 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $61.77.
Several companies slumped after they reported disappointing results.
Synchrony Financial tumbled 15.9 percent. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding $5.25 to $27.80.
Medical software and services company Athenahealth sank 19.3 percent as sales and margins weakened. The stock fell $23.44 to $98.01.
Starbucks lost 2 percent after the coffee chain's sales growth at established locations was weaker than expected. The company also posted fiscal second-quarter earnings that matched Wall Street's expectations. The stock shed $1.24 to $60.06.
Time Inc.'s decision not to sell itself sent the stock plummeting 16.9 percent. The magazine publisher's shares fell $3.10 to $15.20.
Major stock indexes overseas mostly closed lower.
In Europe, Germany's DAX was flat, while France's CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent. London's FTSE 100 index lost 0.5 percent. In Asia, indexes mostly fell. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.3 percent. Seoul's Kospi shed 0.2 percent.
Eurozone inflation data pushed the euro up sharply as it raised speculation that the central bank may not keep its stimulus program in place as long as expected. It was up to $1.0895 from $1.0882 on Thursday. The dollar strengthened to 111.44 yen from 111.23 yen.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose 36 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $49.33 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $51.73 a barrel in London. Home heating oil fell less than a penny to $1.50 a gallon, wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.55 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $3.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In metals trading, gold rose $2.40 to settle at $1,268.30 an ounce, while silver slipped 7 cents to $17.19 per ounce. Copper gained 2 cents to $2.60 per pound.