Energy companies lead US stock indexes mostly lower
Wall Street capped a week of milestones Friday with a day of listless trading that left U.S. stock indexes mostly lower.
Energy companies declined the most as the price of crude oil fell. Health care stocks posted the biggest gain.
Quarterly results from Microsoft, Starbucks and other big companies continued to be in focus. Bond yields fell after the government reported that the economy lost momentum in the last three months of 2016.
More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange. This week all three major indexes set all-time highs, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which held above the 20,000 mark after crossing that threshold for the first time on Wednesday.
“We’ve had an OK week,” said Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede. “Having a day when you just give back a little bit is not a bad thing.”
The Dow fell 7.13 points, or 0.04 percent, to 20,093.78. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 1.99 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,294.69. The Nasdaq composite index rose 5.61 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,660.78. The tiny gain was enough to set another all-time high for the Nasdaq.
Small-company stocks did worse than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 lost 4.89 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,370.70.
The market drifted between small gains and losses through much of the day as investors weighed company earnings and new data on the U.S. economy.
The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.9 percent in the last three months of 2016, a slowdown from 3.5 percent in the previous quarter. For 2016, the economy grew 1.6 percent, the worst showing since 2011 and down from 2.6 percent in 2015.
A separate government report showed businesses spent more on industrial machinery, semiconductors and other big-ticket items last month, a sign U.S. manufacturers seem to be doing better after a two-year slump.
The economic snapshots sent bond prices higher. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.48 percent from 2.51 percent late Thursday.
“The market right now is at sort of at a crossroads,” said Tom Siomades, head of Hartford Funds Investment Consulting Group. “We hit that huge psychological barrier and busted through it when we hit (Dow) 20,000 … but today’s GDP number came in, for the most part, below expectations and brought everyone back down to earth.”
Companies that posted disappointing quarterly results or outlooks for 2017 helped steer the market lower.
Starbucks slid $2.34, or 4 percent, to $56.12 a day after the coffee chain reported weak sales growth and cut its sales forecast for the year.
Chevron also turned in weaker-than-expected results. The oil company was the biggest decliner in the Dow, losing $2.76, or 2.4 percent, to $113.79.
Colgate-Palmolive tumbled 5.2 percent after its fourth-quarter sales missed analysts’ estimates. The company’s 2017 forecast also disappointed investors. The stock fell $3.56 to $64.68.
Companies that served up better results got a boost.
Microsoft rose 2.4 percent, making it the biggest gainer in the Dow. The software giant reported stronger-than-expected quarterly results, largely due to its focus on online services and business software rather than its legacy Windows operating system. The stock gained $1.51 to $65.78.
Wynn Resorts surged 8 percent after it reported revenue that beat Wall Street’s forecasts. The stock led all the gainers in the S&P 500, climbing $7.58 to $103.08.
So far, 33.8 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 index have reported quarterly results for the last three months of 2016, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. And 40 percent of those have posted results that beat financial analysts’ forecasts, the firm said.
Investors also remained focused on the latest moves by President Donald Trump. His spokesman said the administration was considering slapping a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico to help pay for his promised border wall, in an announcement that left markets uncertain about what it means for trade.
“I don’t know anyone who would think of a trade war as good thing, or tariffs,” Siomades said. “When you start going down that path, then the market all of a sudden retracts and says, ‘Wait a minute, we have 1.9 percent GDP growth, how are higher tariffs and restriction on trade going to make that better?'”
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 61 cents, or 1.1 percent, to close at $53.17 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 72 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $55.52 a barrel in London.
Major stock indexes in Europe and Asia were mixed.
Germany’s DAX fell 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 slid 0.6 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.3 percent, helped by the dollar’s surge against the Japanese yen, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.1 percent.
Many Asian countries have begun holidays of varying lengths, curtailing trading across much of the region. Markets in China, South Korea and Taiwan were closed while Malaysia’s was open only in the morning.
In currency trading, the dollar strengthened to 115.09 yen from 114.42 yen on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.0698 from $1.0692.
Among metals, the price of gold slipped $1.40 to $1,188.40 an ounce. Silver rose 29 cents to $17.14 an ounce. Copper added 2 cents to $2.70 a pound.
In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline dropped 2 cents to $1.53 a gallon, while heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.62 a gallon. Natural gas futures rose 1 cent to $3.39 per 1,000 cubic feet.