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Stocks wobble at the end of another shaky week of trading

Stocks wobble at the end of another shaky week of trading
The facade of the New York Stock Exchange. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

U.S. stocks gave up an early rally Friday and struggled to another mixed finish as investors continued to sell shares of former favorites such as retailers. Household goods makers rose again as a week of choppy trading concluded.

Stocks surged in early trading after better-than-expected reports from companies including Procter & Gamble, American Express and PayPal. Procter & Gamble, the world's largest consumer products maker, had its biggest rally in 10 years. But the gains for indexes faded after a report showed U.S. home sales fell for the sixth month in a row. That hurt smaller and more U.S.-focused companies.

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The market settled back into its usual pattern from the last two weeks. Companies that depend on economic growth struggled and those with more “defensive” qualities such as high dividends did better, a sign investors are worried about a few threats to growth: rising interest rates, trade tensions between the U.S. and China and, this week, some sluggish reports about housing construction and sales.

“We don't see too many other yellow or red flags right now, but [housing is] certainly one of them,” said Mona Mahajan, U.S. investment strategist for Allianz Global Investors. Mahajan said that company earnings aren't doing much for the stock market right now because investors know the next two quarters should be strong, and they're concerned that growth in 2019 will be worse than expected.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 1 point to 2,767.78. The Dow Jones industrial average finished with a gain of 64.89 points, or 0.3%, at 25,444.34.

Tuesday was the best day in six months for U.S. stocks, but the S&P 500 fell every other day this week and ended the week up just 0.02%. That was good enough to end a three-week run of losses, but most of the market's recent gains have been swiftly followed by declines.

The S&P 500 hasn't risen two days in a row since Sept. 20. It finished at a record high that day, which was the last in a three-day win streak. The benchmark index is down 5.6% since then.

The Nasdaq composite sagged 36.11 points, or 0.5%, to 7,449.03. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 18.71 points, or 1.2%, to 1,542.04. The Russell 2000 has fallen to a nearly six-month low as investors worry that the U.S. economy could slow and interest rates could rise, a bigger challenge for smaller companies than for bigger ones.

Procter & Gamble, which makes Tide, Pampers and Gillette razors, soared 8.8% to $87.30 after reporting that its sales of fabric and home care products rose in its latest quarter and that its beauty products revenue jumped 20%.

Other household goods companies also rose. Pepsi climbed 2.2% to $110.29. Coca-Cola advanced 1.6% to $46.33. Electric utility Duke Energy rose 1.8% to $82.75.

Aerospace and building components maker Honeywell fell 1.1% to $153.47 after it posted a bigger profit than analysts expected but said it is seeing more signs of inflation in its business as a result of the tariffs the United States and China have placed on each other’s goods. Industrial companies have skidded recently as investors worried about the results of those trade tensions.

EBay slid 8.9% to $28.75 after PayPal said that payment volume from the e-commerce company, its former corporate parent, continued to shrink.

Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.19% from 3.17%.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.7% to $69.12 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 0.6% to $79.78 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 1.2% to $1.91 a gallon. Heating oil rose 0.3% to $2.30 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.6% to $3.25 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold slipped 0.1% to $1,228.70 an ounce. Silver rose 0.3% to $14.65 an ounce. Copper rose 1.1% to $2.78 a pound.

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The dollar rose to 112.60 yen from 112.20 yen. The euro rose to $1.1510 from $1.1465.

4:15 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 7 a.m.

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