Benchmarks closed in the red following a series of disappointing
domestic reports. Major indices retreated following four days of
consecutive gains. Meanwhile, quite surprisingly, retail sales fell
in the month of March. Consumer sentiment declined to its lowest
level in nine months in April. The two major banking giants
reported quarterly results on Friday but failed to impress the
Street. The energy sector was the biggest loser among the S&P
500 industry groups while consumer discretionary stocks were the
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 0.08 points to close
the day at 14,865.06. The S&P 500 fell 0.3% to finish Friday's
trading session at 1,588.86. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index
slipped 0.2% to end at 3,294.95. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility
Index (VIX) fell 1.5% to settle at 12.06. Consolidated volumes on
the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq
were roughly 5.94 billion shares, significantly lower than 2012's
daily average of 6.45 billion shares. Declining stocks outnumbered
the advancers. For the 37% that advanced, 59% declined.
The Dow Jones declined as much as 75 points on Friday but trimmed
most of the losses in the final hour of the trading session.
Despite a slight decline on Friday, benchmarks logged their best
weekly performance since the first week of 2013. The blue-chip
index gained 2.1%, the S&P 500 increased 2.3% and the Nasdaq
moved up 2.8% over the week.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, retail and food
services sales slipped 0.4% to $418.3 billion in March from the
previous month. This was contrary to the consensus estimate of an
increase of 0.1%. Retail trade sales decreased 0.6% from the
previous month. But non- store retail sales grew 13.5% year over
year. Sales for auto and motor vehicle dealers dropped 0.6% whereas
gasoline sales fell 2.2%. These are the worst retail sales figures
in nine months.
According to Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, the
preliminary estimate of consumer sentiment tumbled to 72.3 in April
from the previous month's figure of 78.6. This was well below the
consensus estimate of 78.2. Consumer sentiment fell to its lowest
level in nine months. According to experts, higher payroll taxes
may have hampered investor sentiment. Producer Price Index fell
0.6% in March to its lowest level in ten months. This was above the
consensus estimate of a decline of 0.1%.
Meanwhile, the two major banking giants reported their quarterly
results on Friday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM ) reported
better-than-expected earnings but revenue fell short of the
Street's estimate. The company's profit increased 33% in the
first-quarter boosted by gains in the investment banking business
and mortgage lending. Shares of the company declined 0.6% following
quarterly results. Wells Fargo & Co's (NYSE: WFC ) profit increased
22% but its mortgage business declined for two consecutive
quarters. The company's shares fell 0.8% after the results.
According to Thomson Reuters data, earnings of S&P 500
companies are estimated to increase by 1.2% in the first
The energy sector was the biggest loser among the S&P 500
industry groups and the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) lost 1.5%.
Stocks such as Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM ), Chevron
Corporation (NYSE: CVX ), TOTAL S.A.
(NYSE: TOT ), Suncor
Energy Inc. (USA) (NYSE: SU ) and Marathon Oil
Corporation (NYSE: MRO ) slipped 0.3%,
0.8%, 0.9%, 3.2% and 3.7%, respectively.
Consumer discretionary stocks had a good run and were the major
gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups. The Consumer
Discretionary SPDR (XLY) gained 0.5%. Stocks such as Comcast
Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA ), the Home
Depot, Inc. (NYSE: HD
), Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE: TWC ), McDonald's
Corporation (NYSE: MCD ) and Amazon.com,
Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN
) increased 0.5%, 2.4%, 0.1%, 1.6% and 1.1%, respectively.