Stocks Hang On to Weekly Gains

By Anonymous
  • Stocks notched weekly gains
  • U.S. retail sales showed consumers reined in spending in August
  • Nikkei closes at highest since February

Major indexes edged higher Friday, notching weekly gains as some investor fears about an escalation in trade disputes abated.

“What’s driving intraday volatility and choppiness in the market? It’s going to be trade,” said Shawn Cruz, who manages trading strategy at TD Ameritrade. “We still haven’t seen what’s actually going to get put in place…so it’s more or less a risk-aversion exercise.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8.68 points, or less than 0.1%, to 26154.67. The S&P 500 ticked up 0.80 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2905.98, a day after the index notched its biggest gain in two weeks on Thursday. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 3.67 points, or less than 0.1%, to 8010.04, though it joined the other two major indexes in posting weekly gains.

After the financial crisis, investors sought higher returns in risky emerging markets. Today, the money is flowing back to the U.S. What went wrong for countries such as Argentina and Turkey, and could it get worse? Image: Crystal Tai

One driver of stocks’ advances this week was technology companies, which had been one of the prior week’s biggest decliners.

“It’s good day, bad day with the chip sector, and you still have Facebook and Google under regulatory scrutiny, but the theme in tech is still positive. You’re still getting good earnings reports,” said Dan Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust. He added that he will be watching Oracle’s earnings next week as a way to monitor health in the sector.

This week, technology companies in the S&P 500 rose 1.8%, with the PHLX Semiconductor Index up 1.1%. Apple shares have risen 1.1% this week after the company announced a new lineup of mobile devices.

Consumer companies declined Friday after U.S. retail-sales data showed American consumers reined in their spending in August, taking a breather after very strong sales growth in July. The data comes as U.S. wages rose in August, with private-sector hourly wages growing 2.9% from a year earlier, the fastest pace since mid-2009.

“If that’s not translating into retail spending, retailers will feel the brunt of that move” as it costs more to pay their employees, Mr. Cruz said.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.4%, while banks lagged behind.

Shares in Danske Bank fell 1% after The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. law enforcement agencies are probing Denmark’s largest bank over allegations of massive money-laundering flows from Russia and former Soviet states.

Asian stocks were broadly higher, with benchmarks in Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea up 1% or more. Japan’s Nikkei closed at its highest level since early February, ending its best week since July.

Softness in the dollar and stabilization in some emerging markets has also helped improve investors’ appetite for risk, analysts said.

Shoqat Bunglawala, head of the global portfolio solutions group for EMEA and Asia Pacific at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said he is cautious on emerging markets in the short term because of issues largely stemming from market sentiment and volatility, but in the medium term is still very positive on broader emerging markets.

Many are in a substantially better position than they were a few years ago, he said, pointing to improvements in earnings growth and well-anchored inflation.

Stocks Hang On to Weekly Gains

Chinese investors play cards near an electronic display showing stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing on Tuesday. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

Write to Riva Gold at [email protected] and Corrie Driebusch at [email protected]