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VOL. 41 | NO. 21 | Friday, May 26, 2017

US stocks stand still after 6-day push to record highs

The Associated Press

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are little changed Friday afternoon in quiet trading ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. Household goods companies are rising as beauty products makers Ulta and Coty climb. Technology companies, which have led the market's recent rally, are slightly lower. Indexes remain near record highs following a six-day winning streak.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index stayed at 2,414 as of 3:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 6 points to 21,076. The Nasdaq composite rose 2 points to 6,207, which put it on track for another record close. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,382.

On the New York Stock Exchange, more companies rose than fell. U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Memorial Day.

EARNINGS: Without much major news to move stock prices, investors continued to trade on company reports. Many came from consumer-focused companies and sellers of household goods, and both industries did better than the rest of the market Friday.

Beauty products retailer Ulta Beauty gained $9.89, or 3.4 percent, to $302.93 after it reported a strong quarter. Competitor Coty picked up 42 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $19.02.

Costco Wholesale rose $3.05, or 1.7 percent, to $177.78 after the warehouse club had a strong quarter as sales and member payments both increased. Uggs maker Deckers Outdoor turned in earnings that were stronger than expected, and its stock gained $10.28, or 18.2 percent, to $66.85.

GAME OVER: GameStop's first-quarter results were stronger than analysts expected, but sales of new software and wireless devices were weaker than investors expected. The stock gave up $1.68, or 7.1 percent, to $21.94. Video game publishers also fell. Activision Blizzard lost $1.06, or 1.8 percent, to $58.16 and Electronic Arts declined $1.06, or 1.4 percent, to $112.27. Take-Two Interactive Software shed $1.56, or 1.5 percent, to $77.37.

SOOTHED: The VIX, an index that is called Wall Street's "fear gauge" because it measures how much volatility investors expect to see, fell for the seventh day in a row. After a huge spike last Wednesday, the 27-year-old index is trading near all-time lows. It sank to 9.82 Friday. The only time it was lower was late December 1993.

THE QUOTE: "Investors have been conditioned over multiple years to buy the dip any time there's a market pullback," said Jason Draho, the head of American tactical asset allocation for UBS Wealth Management. "They've been sitting on a lot of cash."

Draho said that's one reason the market has been so stable recently. Another is that the economy has been growing gradually but steadily for eight years, which in turn has contributed to one of the longest-lasting bull markets of all time. And as a bull market gets older, stocks don't move in the same direction as often. When one stock or one sector rises and another falls, that makes the overall market flatter and less volatile.

OIL: Crude oil prices bounced back from a sharp drop the day before. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 90 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $49.80 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, added 69 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $52.15 a barrel in London.

On Thursday a group of 24 nations including the OPEC countries agreed to a nine-month extension of a cut in oil production. But energy companies, which have lagged the market dramatically this year, hardly budged. The S&P 500's energy company index is down 12 percent in 2017 while the broader S&P 500 is up almost 8 percent.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline added 3 cents to $1.64 a gallon. Heating oil gained 1 cent to $1.56 a gallon. Natural gas rose 5 cents to $3.24 per 1,000 cubic feet.

ECONOMY: The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew 1.2 percent in the first quarter, which was still weak but better than it originally estimated. Orders for long-lasting goods fell in April, and a category that tracks business investment fell for the second month in a row.

METALS: As the dollar weakened, gold rose $11.70 to $1,268.10 an ounce and silver gained 13 cents to $17.32 an ounce. Copper fell 3 cents to $2.57 a pound.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.25 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar sank to 111.19 yen from 111.80 yen. The euro fell to $1.1176 from $1.1205.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX lost 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain rose 0.4 percent. The French CAC 40 fell by a fraction of a percentage point. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed 0.6 percent but the South Korean Kospi climbed 0.5 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was nearly unchanged.

___

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this story. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay

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