Belfast Telegraph

Stocks end little changed after mixed day

Stocks ended more or less where they started on Friday as a five-day rally ran out of steam.

The market was down most of the day after disappointing bank earnings weighed on financial company shares. Investors also sold retailers and other consumer-focused stocks.

But by the close, the Dow Jones industrial average managed to squeeze out a gain to set another record high.

US government bonds fell, sending their yields higher.

"The market is taking a breather," said Anna Rathbun, research director at CBIZ Retirement Plan Services. "Investors are taking gains."

The Dow edged up 10.14 points, or 0.1%, to 18,516.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 2.01 points, or 0.1%, to 2,161.74. Six of the 10 sectors in that index ended lower.

The Nasdaq composite lost 4.47 points, or 0.1%, to end at 5,029.59.

All three indexes ended the week up, their third in a row.

Earnings remained a focus for investors. Wells Fargo fell 1.23 dollars, or 2.5%, to 47.71 dollars after the consumer banking giant reported a drop in second-quarter earnings.

Earnings per share for the entire S&P 500 are expected to have dropped 5.3% last quarter compared with a year ago, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. That would be the fourth quarter in a row of falling profits, rare outside of a recession.

Bill Strazzullo, chief market strategist at Bell Curve Trading, expects stocks will continue to climb in future weeks, but he is worried. He thinks the gains have more to do with easy money policies by central banks in the US, Europe and Japan than any improvement in fundamentals.

"The market isn't really trading on economic growth and earnings. It's being propped up by wildly accommodative monetary policy," he said. "The music will eventually stop and stock markets around the world will fall significantly."

Trading was subdued in Europe after a man drove a lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day along the beachfront of Nice, killing at least 84 people.

France's CAC-40 was down 0.3% while Germany's DAX was flat. The FTSE 100 rose 0.2%.

Travel-related stocks fell in the wake of the attack. Cruise operator Royal Caribbean lost 1.49 dollar, or 2.1%, to 70.39 dollars. Delta Air Lines fell one dollar, or 2.4%, to 39.98 dollars.

Among other stocks making big moves, Herbalife rose 5.89 dollars, or 10%, to 65.25 dollars after it agreed to pay a 200 million dollar (£151 million) settlement over allegations that it deceived consumers, but avoided a more serious charge that it was operating as a pyramid scheme.

The deal puts an end to a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the nutritional supplements company that had stretched over two years.