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Major Averages Close Mixed After Lackluster Session - U.S. Commentary

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After ending the previous session modestly lower, stocks turned in a lackluster performance during trading on Friday. The major averages spent much of the day lingering near the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually ended the session mixed. While the Dow edged down 9.64 points or 22.349.59, the Nasdaq inched up 4.23 points or 0.1 percent to 6,426.92 and the S&P 500 crept up 1.62 points or 0.1 percent to 2,502.22.

For the week, the Nasdaq dipped by 0.3 percent, while the Dow rose by 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 inched up by 0.1 percent.

The choppy trading on Wall Street reflected geopolitical concerns amid an escalating war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

In a statement circulated by state news agency KCNA, Kim described Trump's threat to "totally destroy" North Korea as "mentally deranged behavior."

Kim also called Trump's remarks to the United Nations General Assembly "rude nonsense" and claimed he was not frightened by the president's threat.

"I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue," Kim said.

"Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation," he added. "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."

Trump responded to Kim's statement with a post on Twitter on Friday, calling the North Korean dictator a "madman."

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!" Trump tweeted.

The back-and-forth between Trump and Kim came as North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has said his country may consider testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

Nonetheless, overall trading activity was somewhat subdued amid a relatively quiet day on the U.S. economic front.

Sector News

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

Electronic storage stocks showed a significant move to the upside, however, with the NYSE Arca Disk Drive Index jumping by 1.8 percent.

Pure Storage (PSTG), Quantum (QTM), and Seagate Technology (STX) turned in some of the storage sector's best performances.

Notable strength was also visible among telecom stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Telecom Index. The index ended the session at its best closing level in a month.

Sprint (S) led the sector higher after a report from Reuters said the wireless carrier is close to agreeing to tentative terms on a merger with T-Mobile (TMUS).

Oil service, gold and silver, and networking stocks also saw some strength on the day, while steel and utilities stocks moved to the downside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dropped by 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.6 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries saw modest strength after trending lower over the past several sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by 1.6 basis points to 2.262 percent.

Looking Ahead

Developments regarding the situation with North Korea may impact trading next week, although traders are also likely to keep an eye on reports on new home sales, durable goods orders, and personal income and spending.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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