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Stocks Extend Recovery But Close Lower For The Week - U.S. Commentary


Following the rebound seen in the previous session, stocks saw some further upside during trading on Friday. With the upward move on the day, the major averages further offset the steep losses posted on Wednesday.

The major averages close firmly in positive territory but off their best levels of the day. The Dow advanced 141.82 points or 0.7 percent to 20,804.84, the Nasdaq rose 28.57 points or 0.5 percent to 6,083.70 and the S&P 500 climbed 16.01 points or 0.7 percent to 2,381.73.

Despite the recovery seen over the past two days, the major averages still closed lower for the week. The Nasdaq fell by 0.6 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 both dropped by 0.4 percent.

The strength on Wall Street came as traders continued to pick up stocks at relatively low levels following the substantial weakness that was seen two days ago.

The sell-off on Wednesday was triggered in part by reports President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director Comey to drop a federal investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

However, Trump flatly denied the claim he urged Comey to back off Flynn in a news conference after the close of trading on Thursday.

Trump sought to reassure Americans he was focused on efforts to create jobs, cut taxes and repeal and replace Obamacare despite the recent scandals that have plagued the White House.

"We have to get back to running this country really, really well," Trump said. "My total priority, believe me, is the United States of America."

Positive sentiment may also have been generated by comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard raising questions about the need for another increase in interest rates next month.

Noting the financial market reaction to the March rate hike has been opposite of what is typically expected, Bullard said the Fed's contemplated policy rate path may be overly aggressive relative to incoming economic data.

Bullard, who is not a voting member of the Fed's policy committee this year, pointed out that U.S. macroeconomic data since the March meeting has been relatively weak.

Sector News

After falling sharply over the two previous sessions, steel stocks showed a substantial move back to the upside. The NYSE Arca Steel Index surged up by 3.1 percent after ending Thursday's trading at a six-month closing low.

Brazil's CSN (SID) and Gerdau (GGB) turned in two of the steel sector's best performances, spiking by 10 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.

Considerable strength was also visible among energy stocks, which moved higher along with the price of crude oil. Crude for June delivery jumped $0.98 to $50.33 a barrel.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index shot up by 2.7 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, while the NYSE Arca Oil & Gas Index climbed by 1.4 percent.

Telecom stocks also turned in a strong performance on the day, with the NYSE Arca North American Telecom Index advancing by 2 percent. Frontier Communications (FTR) posted a standout gain.

Gold, tobacco, semiconductor, and banking stocks also saw notable strength, while some weakness was visible among biotechnology stocks.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index crept up by 0.2 percent, while Australia's All Ordinaries Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

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

In the bond market, treasuries moved modestly lower, extending the pullback seen in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by 1.2 basis points to 2.245 percent.

Looking Ahead

Next week's trading may be impacted by reaction to reports on new and existing home sales and durable goods orders as well as the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

On the earnings front, Lowe's (LOW), Tiffany (TIF), HP Inc. (HPQ), Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Best Buy (BBY), Sears (SHLD), and Costco (COST) are among the companies due to report their quarterly results next week.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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