After moving to the upside early in the session, the major U.S. stock indexes turned mixed over the course of the trading day on Friday. While the Dow managed to remain in positive territory, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 slid into the red.
The major averages finished the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Dow rose 123.69 points or 0.4 percent to 34,207.84, but the Nasdaq fell 64.75 points or 0.5 percent to 13,470.99 and the S&P 500 edged down 3.26 points or 0.1 percent to 4,155.86.
For the week, the major averages also turned in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq climbed by 0.3 percent, the Dow and the S&P 500 slid by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
The mixed performance on the day came as traders continued to digest yesterday’s Labor Department report showing initial jobless claims once again dropped to their lowest level in well over a year.
The data further reinforced the view that the disappointing monthly employment report for April was an anomaly and not a sign of an economic downturn.
Traders generally remain optimistic about the economic outlook but also remain wary of signs that the Federal Reserve will soon consider tapering its asset purchases.
Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors released a report this morning showing an unexpected decrease in existing home sales in the month of April.
NAR said existing home sales tumbled by 2.7 percent to an annual rate of 5.85 million in April after plunging by 3.7 percent to a rate of 6.01 million in March. The slump surprised economists, who had expected existing home sales to surge up by 2.0 percent.
Existing home sales declined for the third straight month but were still up by 33.9 percent compared to the same month a year ago.
Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.
Banking stocks showed a significant move to the upside, however, with the KBW Bank Index advancing by 1.3 percent.
Strength was also visible among oil service stocks, which moved higher as the price of crude oil for July delivery jumped $1.64 to $63.58 a barrel.
On the other hand, steel stocks saw considerable weakness on the day, resulting in a 1.2 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.6 percent.
Meanwhile, most European stocks moved to the upside on the day. The French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.4 percent, although the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index closed just below the unchanged line.
In the bond market, treasuries showed a lack of direction after moving notably higher in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by less than a basis point to 1.632 percent.
Next week’s trading may be impacted by reaction to reports on new home sales, consumer confidence, durable goods orders, and personal income and spending.
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