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Major Averages Close Mixed For The Day And The Week - U.S. Commentary

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With traders shrugging off disappointing retailer sales data, stocks turned in another relatively lackluster performance during trading on Friday. The choppy trading seen on the day extended a recent trend on Wall Street.

The major averages eventually ended the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Nasdaq inched up 5.27 points or 0.1 percent to 6,121.23, but the Dow edged down 22.81 points or 0.1 percent to 20,896.61 and the S&P 500 slipped 3.54 points or 0.2 percent to 2,390.90.

Reflecting the lack of direction seen in recent sessions, the major averages also turned in a mixed performance for the week. While the Nasdaq rose by 0.3 percent, the Dow fell by 0.5 percent and the S&P 500 dipped by 0.3 percent.

The mixed close on Wall Street came following the release of a Commerce Department report showing a smaller than expected increase in retail sales in the month of April.

The Commerce Department said retail sales climbed by 0.4 percent in April compared to economist estimates for 0.6 percent growth.

However, the report also said retail sales inched up by a revised 0.1 percent in March versus the 0.2 percent drop originally reported.

Excluding a rebound in auto sales, retail sales rose by 0.3 percent in April, matching the increase seen in the previous month as well as economist estimates.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed that consumer prices rebounded in line with economist estimates in the month of April.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index rose by 0.2 percent in April after falling by 0.3 percent in March.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices inched up by 0.1 percent in April after dipping by 0.1 percent in March. Core prices had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan released a report showing a modest improvement in consumer sentiment in the month of May.

The report said the preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index for May came in at 97.7 compared to the final April reading of 97.0. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 97.3.

Among individual stocks, Shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) fell sharply after the department store chain reported a significantly wider first quarter loss on weaker than expected revenues.

Retailer Nordstrom (JWN) also posted a steep loss after reporting better than expected first quarter earnings but a bigger than expected drop in comparable store sales.

On the other hand, shares of The Trade Desk (TTD) spiked higher after the digital advertising service reported first quarter results that beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.

Oil service stocks saw substantial weakness, however, with the Philadelphia Oil Service Index slumping by 1.9 percent. Rowan (RDC), Diamond Offshore (DO), and Transocean (RIG) turned in some of the sector's worst performances.

The weakness among oil service stocks came even though the price of crude oil for June delivery inched up $0.01 to $47.84 a barrel.

Considerable weakness was also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 1.2 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index fell to its lowest closing level in six months.

On the other hand, biotechnology stocks showed a notable move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index up by 1.1 percent.

Gold stocks also moved higher along with the price of the precious metal, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index climbing by 1.1 percent as gold for June delivery rose $3.50 to $1,227.70 an ounce.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.4 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced by 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved higher on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries showed a significant move to the upside following the disappointing retail sales data. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, slid 6.5 basis points to 2.335 percent.

Looking Ahead

Economic data may attract some attention next week, with traders likely to keep an eye on reports on housing starts, homebuilder confidence, and industrial production.

Retail giants Wal-Mart (WMT) Home Depot (HD) and Target (TGT) are also due to report their quarterly results next week along with networking giant Cisco Systems (CSCO).

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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