Stocks inch up on the last day of a down week

The outside of the New York Stock Exchange.
(Chris Hondros / Getty Images)

U.S. stocks edged higher Friday as gains from energy companies, industrial firms and smaller companies helped the market end a modest losing streak.

Oil and gas companies climbed along with the price of oil, and industrial companies recovered some of the losses they sustained earlier this month. Beauty products retailer Ulta and software company Adobe rose after strong quarterly reports. Tiffany dropped after reporting weak sales, and online retailers and Wayfair slumped as investors worried about a possible price war.

For four days this week, stocks moved higher in early trading only to shed those gains as the day went on. They broke out of that pattern Friday, even though the gains were modest.

“From an investor point of view, the fact that we haven’t rallied right back to the highs is a good thing,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. Positive news about the economy has been countered by concerns about rising tensions over international trade.

“The pullback that we’ve been in is pretty much driven by President Trump’s proclamation about tariffs,” Frederick said.


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.68 points, or 0.2%, to 2,752.01. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 72.85 points, or 0.3%, to 24,946.51. The Nasdaq composite edged up 0.25 of a point to 7,481.99. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 9.43 points, or 0.6%, to 1,586.05.

After a dramatic drop at the beginning of February followed by a rapid recovery of some of their losses, stocks have bounced around for the last month. The Dow, which surged past 26,000 in mid-January, has been wobbling around 25,000 for about a month.

The S&P 500 declined 1.2% this week. The worst losses came Tuesday and Wednesday after Trump blocked Singapore-based chipmaker Broadcom’s effort to buy U.S. rival Qualcomm, and European leaders warned about the risks of trade disputes.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that factory output continued to rise as U.S. companies produced more cars, computers and furniture. It reported that manufacturing output rose 1.2% in February after three months of weak results. Factory output was up 2.5% over the last year.

The Commerce Department said homebuilders started work on fewer apartment buildings in February, causing overall housing starts to drop 7%. Builders have shifted their efforts to single-family homes recently as the economy has improved.

Benchmark U.S. crude jumped $1.15, or 1.9%, to $62.34 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed $1.09, or 1.7%, to $66.21 a barrel in London.

Tiffany dropped 5.1% to $97.51 after the jewelry company reported weaker sales than analysts expected. Its forecast for the current year also disappointed.

Online discount retailer said its profit margins have fallen hard because of competition with Wayfair, and CEO Patrick Byrne said the company will “respond in kind,” meaning Overstock will try to ramp up its growth and will be willing to lose money to achieve that goal. Overstock shares dropped 5.2% to $45.70. Wayfair slid 6% to $78.95.

Although Broadcom no longer is trying to buy rival chipmaker Qualcomm, both companies are still at the center of deal discussions. The Financial Times reported that former Qualcomm chairman Paul Jacobs wants to take the company private and has had talks with potential investors and the Qualcomm board. Qualcomm rose 1.2% to $60.62, which gives it a market value of about $90 billion.

Broadcom, meanwhile, says it sees opportunities for other acquisitions. The company also disclosed its quarterly results, and its shares slid 4.8% to $254.87.

The top policymakers at the Federal Reserve will meet Tuesday and Wednesday, and they are expected to raise interest rates again. Because the market is fairly sure what the Fed will do, there will be a lot of focus on what it says. After the meeting ends, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will hold his first news conference since he succeeded Janet Yellen as chairman last month.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.84% from 2.83%.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.95 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1 cent to $2.69 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $5.50 to $1,312.30 an ounce. Silver fell 15 cents to $16.27 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $3.11 a pound.

The dollar declined to 106.10 yen from 106.24 yen. The euro fell to $1.2284 from $1.2303.

In overseas markets, the German DAX rose 0.4%, and Britain’s FTSE and France’s CAC 40 each gained 0.3%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.6%. South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.1%.


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

9:30 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices and context.

This article was originally published at 7 a.m.