Belfast Telegraph

US stocks end successful week with mixed performance

US stocks have limped to the finish line after another successful week, with indexes turning in a mixed performance on Friday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 3.13 points, or 0.1%, to 2,378.25.

Gains a couple of days earlier fuelled by the Federal Reserve meant the index rose 0.2% for the week.

It is the seventh weekly gain for the S&P 500 in the last eight, and the index is within 1% of its record high.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19.93 points, or 0.1%, to 20,914.62.

The Nasdaq composite rose 0.24 points, or 0.004%, to 5,901.00. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 5.49, or 0.4%, to 1,391.52.

Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The midweek rally came after the Federal Reserve gave a more measured forecast for interest-rate increases than some investors expected.

While raising rates by a quarter of a percentage point, the central bank said that it is still planning a total of three increases this year.

That came as a surprise for some investors, who thought four hikes was possible given the pick-up in the economy and inflation.

Not only did stocks rise following the announcement but bond yields fell sharply.

"The big focal point for the week was the Fed," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management. "Now that we have that behind us, the rest is window dressing."

Investors are turning their attention to the market's next potential flash points, Mr Jacobsen said, including whether Washington will be able to deliver on promises to cut taxes, boost infrastructure spending and otherwise boost the economy.

They are also waiting for upcoming elections in Europe, where investors worry that wins by nationalist candidates could lead to weaker resolve for the European Union to stick together.

Treasury yields dipped, resuming their slide that began with the Fed's announcement.

The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.50% from 2.54% late on Thursday. The two-year yield dipped to 1.31% from 1.34%, and the 30-year yield sank to 3.11% from 3.15%.

Financial stocks fell in sync with bond yields. The two have tended to move in the same direction recently, because higher rates would allow banks to charge more for loans and earn bigger profits.

Financial stocks fell 1.1%, the largest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500.

On the other end were dividend-paying stocks, which benefited from the fall in yields. When bonds are paying less in interest, it makes the income provided by dividend-paying stocks more attractive.

Utility stocks in the S&P 500, which pay some of the biggest dividends in the index, rose 0.6%.