Belfast Telegraph

Energy firms lead US stock indexes lower

Wall Street capped a week of milestones on Friday with a day of listless trading that left US 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.

The Dow fell 7.13 points, or 0.04%, to 20,093.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 1.99 points, or 0.1%, to 2,294.69. The Nasdaq composite index rose 5.61 points, or 0.1%, 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%, 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 US economy.

The Commerce Department said the US economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.9% in the last three months of 2016, a slowdown from 3.5% in the previous quarter. For 2016, the economy grew 1.6%, the worst showing since 2011 and down from 2.6% in 2015.

A separate government report showed businesses spent more on industrial machinery, semiconductors and other big-ticket items last month, a sign US 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% from 2.51% late on Thursday.

Companies that posted disappointing quarterly results or outlooks for 2017 helped steer the market lower.

Starbucks slid 2.34 dollars, or 4%, to 56.12 dollars, 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 dollars, or 2.4%, to 113.79 dollars.

Companies that served up better results got a boost.

Microsoft rose 2.4%, 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 dollars to 65.78 dollars.

Wynn Resorts surged 8% after it reported revenue that beat Wall Street's forecasts. The stock led all the gainers in the S&P 500, climbing 7.58 dollars to 103.08 dollars.

Investors also remained focused on the latest moves by President Donald Trump. His spokesman said the administration was considering slapping a 20% 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.

Benchmark US crude oil fell 61 cents, or 1.1%, to close at 53.17 dollars a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 72 cents, or 1.3%, to close at 55.52 dollars, a barrel in London.

Major stock indexes in Europe and Asia were mixed.

Germany's DAX fell 0.3%, while France's CAC 40 slid 0.6%. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.3%. In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.3%, helped by the dollar's surge against the Japanese yen, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.1%.