Benchmarks ended Friday's trading session on a mixed note. The S&P 500 and Dow gained modestly on the back of better-than-expected nonfarm payroll data. These marginal gains were strong enough for the S&P 500 to hit another record high for the second consecutive day. Investors were also kept on the edge by recent developments in the Crimea region; leading to a volatile trading session.AMER EXPRESS CO (AXP): Free Stock Analysis ReportD R HORTON INC (DHI): Free Stock Analysis ReportDISNEY WALT (DIS): Free Stock Analysis ReportDISH NETWORK CP (DISH): Free Stock Analysis ReportJPMORGAN CHASE (JPM): Free Stock Analysis ReportLENNAR CORP -A (LEN): Free Stock Analysis ReportNVR INC (NVR): Free Stock Analysis ReportUSG CORP (USG): Free Stock Analysis ReportWELLS FARGO-NEW (WFC): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.2% to close Friday's trading session at 16,452.72. The Standard & Poor (S&P 500) edged up 0.1% to finish at 1,878.04. However, the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.4% to 4,336.22. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) dropped 0.7% to settle at 14.11. Total volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 3.5 billion shares. Advancing stocks were outnumbered by declining stocks on the NYSE. For 41% stocks that advanced, 56% declined.
For the week, the S&P 500 advanced 1.0% and the Dow posted a gain of 0.8%. The Nasdaq gained for the fifth-straight week and has improved 0.7% since last Friday. The benchmarks managed to remain in the positive territory through the week as tension between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimea region subsided. Following these developments, investors have been confident enough to invest in equities rather than traditional safe-haven assets.
The new agreemenmt between The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS ) and Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH ) has added to the bullish mood. The European Central Bank and the Central Bank of United Kingdom's decisions to not change the key lending rates were welcomed by investors. There were mixed reports on the economic front; which investors overlooked as an outcome of the bitter winter season.
Coming back to Friday's events, US stocks began the day on an upbeat note following a better-than-expected nonfarm payroll report for February. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said nonfarm payroll employment had risen to 175,000 in February from 129,000 in January. The rise came despite the harsh winter weather. The increase was more than the consensus estimate of a jump to 152,000.
This report from the Labor Department pushed the S&P 500 to an intraday record of 1,883.57. However, the benchmarks gave away some of the gains as investors remained apprehensive about the US Federal Reserve's next possible move following better jobs data. The Fed's next policy meeting will take place later this month.
The Labor Department also reported that unemployment rate had edged up to 6.7% in February from 6.6% in January. This rise in unemployment rate was the first increase in 14 months and was more than the consensus estimate of it remaining flat at 6.6%.
Meanwhile, consumer credit increased 5.3% or $13.7 billion in January according to the Federal Reserve. However, the increase in the indicator of potential future spending levels was slightly less than the consensus estimate of an increase by $14 billion.
Separately, the Department of Commerce reported a deficit in goods and services of $39.1 billion in January, up from revised $39.0 billion in December. This rise in the country's largest component of balance of payments was also more than the consensus estimate of $37 billion.
Investors also kept an eye on the developments in the Crimea region where a referendum on whether or not to split the region from Ukraine and make it a part of Russia is possibly being prepared. Geo-political concerns surged when Russian President Vladimir Putin turned down a warning from U.S. President Barack Obama over movement of Russian troops in the Crimea region.
Five out of ten sectors of the S&P 500 ended in green. Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) led the gains as the sector rose 0.5%. Top holdings from the sector such as Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC ), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM ), Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK-B) and American Express Company and (NYSE: AXP ) increased 1.3%, 0.9%, 1.2% and 0.4%, respectively.
Among the declining stocks, SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) led the decline as the sector fell 0.5%. Key stocks from the sector such as USG Corporation (NYSE: USG ), DR Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI ), NVR, Inc. (NYSE: NVR ) and Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN ) decreased 2.4%. 1.6%. 0.6% and 1.9%, respectively.