The S&P 500 fell this week, dropping 0.91% over the past five sessions to finish Friday at 1,862.37. Economic data showing better-than-expected retail spending during December fueled a significant turn-around late this week, lifting the market gauge nearly 2% higher on Friday after yesterday sliding to a new 52-week low of $1,810.10 during the previous session.
Reflecting the defensive tone for trading much of this week, shares of consumer staple companies were the only sector in the S&P 500 to post a cumulative gain, rising 0.89% since Monday. Kroger ( KR ) helped pace the sector advance on Friday after Stifel Nicolaus began analyst coverage of the grocery chain with a Buy rating and a $45 price target amid market speculation it was pursuing a takeover of The Fresh Market ( TFM ). Financial stocks posted the largest decline this week, falling 2.24% as a group, with shares of real estate companies within the sector taking the hardest fall, slipping 5.53%.
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