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Stocks end a choppy trading week with a mixed finish

Stocks end a choppy trading week with a mixed finish
Trader Edward Curran works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Despite a choppy week of trading and a mixed finish for U.S. stocks, the market extended its recent streak of relative calm Friday.

The Standard & Poor's 500, the market's benchmark index, notched its 10th day in a row without a gain or drop of 1% or more. That's the longest stretch since Jan. 26, when the market broke 4 1/2 months of calm with a 1.2% gain, which also marked a record high.

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Just one week later, the market entered an extended bout of volatility that included a rapid plunge of 10% in early February. That was the first "correction" the market had seen in two years.

Since then, the market has returned to quieter trading, even as U.S. companies report fatter profits and investors grow anxious about rising interest rates and trade tensions between the United States and China.

"Now it feels like investors are paralyzed trying to choose between a pretty solid economic picture and great earnings growth, and rising rates and ongoing geopolitical drama day to day," said Craig Birk, executive vice president of portfolio management at Personal Capital.

The S&P 500 fell 7.16 points, or 0.3%, to 2,712.97 on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 1.11 points to 24,715.09. The Nasdaq composite fell 28.13 points, or 0.4%, to 7,354.34.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 1.34 points, or 0.1%, to 1,626.63, its third all-time high in a row.

The indexes finished the week in the red, but they are still on track for gains this month, led by the Russell 2000.

After a strong start to the month, markets have been choppy this week as investors turned the page on the first-quarter earnings reporting season and weighed the implications of the ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China. The countries, which have threatened tariffs on each other, were holding discussions aimed at averting a trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

Traders also have been coming to grips with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note moving well past 3%. It hit 3.12% on Wednesday, its highest level in almost seven years.

"The issue of inflation is starting to rear its head again," said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment strategist for U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management. "That's got investors a bit nervous. And then we have the dollar strengthening and emerging markets weakening."

Even so, the S&P 500 has remained in a narrow trading range, keeping volatility largely under wraps, at least for now.

On Friday, banks and technology companies were among the biggest decliners, offsetting gains by industrial and healthcare stocks. Energy companies declined as crude oil prices fell.

Bond prices rose, sending yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.06% from 3.12%. The pullback in bond yields, which affect interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, weighed on bank stocks. Citigroup shares fell 2.2% to $69.96.

Some companies' quarterly results or outlooks also put investors in a selling mood Friday.

Campbell Soup plunged 12.4% to $34.37 after the packaged foods company lowered its profit forecast and said that its chief executive, Denise Morrison, was retiring effective immediately. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500 and had its worst single-day drop since 1999.

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Nordstrom tumbled 10.9% to $45.36 after the upscale department store chain said sales at established stores, a key metric for retailers, showed meager gains in the first quarter.

Applied Materials slumped 8.2% to $49.51 after the maker of chipmaking equipment forecast revenue for the current quarter that was below Wall Street's estimates.

Industrials and healthcare stocks notched solid gains. Drugmaker Nektar Therapeutics led all stocks in the S&P 500, climbing 7.7% to $85.30. Deere & Co. rose 5.7% to $155.25 after the agricultural and construction equipment maker forecast 35% growth in equipment sales for its third quarter.

PayPal Holdings rose 2% to $80.79 on news that the company is buying Stockholm-based payment processing startup iZettle for $2.2 billion with the aim of expanding into Europe and Latin America.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 21 cents to settle at $71.28 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oil, fell 79 cents to $78.51 a barrel in London. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $2.27 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline fell a penny to $2.23 a gallon. Natural gas fell a penny to $2.85 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The slide in crude oil prices was a drag on energy stocks. Range Resources shares slid 3.2% to $15.17.

Gold rose $1.90 to $1,291.30 an ounce. Silver fell 3 cents to $16.46 an ounce. Copper fell 3 cents to $3.06 a pound.

The dollar fell to 110.68 yen from 110.75 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1773 from $1.1799.

UPDATES:

2:05 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 9:10 a.m.

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