Equities ticked higher on Friday, locking in big gains for the week, as a positive performance from the health care sector narrowly outweighed a modest pullback from the information technology group. The S&P 500 and the Dow added 0.2% and 0.4%, respectively, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq underperformed, closing a tick below its flat line. All three indices finished with weekly gains of more than 2.0%.
The market drifted flat to slightly higher for the bulk of Friday's session, but volatility picked up briefly in the afternoon when President Trump unveiled a blueprint for lowering drug prices. The president plans to increase competition within the drug space and to change rules that have allowed some drugmakers to game the system. The blueprint lacked many details, however, prompting a sigh of relief from investors, who were worried about the possibility of imminent regulation. Health-related names rallied into the close, leaving the S&P 500's health care sector with a gain of 1.5%.
Telecom services was the only group to outperform health care on Friday, largely thanks to Verizon (VZ 48.62, +1.42), which rallied after JPMorgan upgraded shares to 'Overweight' from 'Neutral'; the telecom services group finished with a gain of 2.1%, while Verizon shares ended higher by 3.0%.
The only other sectors to finish in the green were industrials, consumer discretionary, and utilities, but their gains were modest at 0.2% apiece. On the downside, six sectors finished in the red, but no group lost more than 0.5%. The technology group was among the worst performers, closing lower by 0.3%, which posed a problem for the broader market given the group's huge influence; technology is the top-weighted S&P 500 sector, representing around a quarter of the broader market alone.
Shares of chipmaker NVIDIA (NVDA 254.53, -5.60) declined 2.2%, retreating from an all-time high, amid a "sell the news" response to the company's first quarter results, which came in better-than-expected. Separately, Apple (AAPL 188.59, -0.72) shares broke their nine-session winning streak, slipping 0.4%, and shares of Symantec (SYMC 19.52, -9.66) plunged 33.1% after the company announced that it has relayed concerns from an ex-employee to the SEC.
Outside of equities, U.S. Treasuries finished Friday on a flattish note, with the benchmark 10-yr yield holding steady at 2.97%. Meanwhile, WTI crude futures declined 0.9% to $70.70 per barrel, slipping from a three-and-a-half year high, and the U.S. Dollar Index dropped for the third day in a row, slipping 0.2% to 92.41.
Reviewing Friday's economic data, which was limited to April Import/Export Prices and the preliminary reading of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for May:
- Import prices excluding oil rose 0.2% in April after rising a revised 0.1% in March (from +0.2%). Export prices excluding agriculture increased 0.7% after holding flat last month (revised from -0.1%).
- The key takeaway from the report is that overall import price pressures moderated on a year-over-year basis while nonfuel import prices remain at palatable levels on a year-over-year basis.
- The preliminary reading of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for May held steady at 98.8 (Briefing.com consensus 98.0).
- The key takeaway from the report is that there was some slippage in income expectations and a small uptick in the one-year inflation expectation to 2.8% from 2.7%.
Investors will not receive any economic data on Monday.
- Nasdaq Composite: +7.2% YTD
- Russell 2000: +4.6% YTD
- S&P 500: +2.0% YTD
- Dow Jones Industrial Average: +0.5% YTD
Week In Review: Buyers Re-emerge Following Q1 Earnings Season
Buyers returned to the market this week following a three-week absence during the thick of the first quarter earnings season. The S&P 500, the Dow, and the Nasdaq finished with sizable weekly gains, adding between 2.3% and 2.7% apiece -- enough to put the S&P 500 and the Dow back into positive territory for the year (+2.0%, +0.5% YTD). The Nasdaq is now up 7.2% year-to-date.
The stock market got off to a slow start this week as investors digested President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear agreement and restore the "highest level of economic sanctions" against Iran. The president was scolded by European allies, which wanted the U.S. to remain in the agreement, while Iran's response was more violent with lawmakers burning the American flag in parliament.
Tensions in Middle East were further escalated later in the week when Israel struck nearly all of Iran's military infrastructure in Syria in response to an Iranian missile attack on Israeli-held territory.
Outside of a brief pause, stocks had a mostly muted reaction to the headlines, but crude oil futures took off, with WTI crude establishing a new three-and-a-half year high ($71.26/bbl), as the restoration of U.S. sanctions on Iran -- which is OPEC's third-largest oil exporter -- and the looming threat of conflict within the oil-rich region prompted investors to bet on a disruption to crude supply on the global market.
The S&P's energy sector benefited from the rise in oil prices, adding 3.8% this week, but the industrials, technology, and financials sectors finished with similar weekly gains, adding between 3.4% and 3.6%. In total, nine sectors finished the week in the green, while two -- consumer staples (-0.5%) and utilities (-2.3%) -- finished in the red.
Stocks started taking off on Wednesday and carried that momentum into Thursday's session; the S&P 500 added 1.9% in those two days alone, catapulting above its 50-day moving average to a nearly two-month high. Technology shares rallied over that two-day stretch, reminiscing last year's tech-charged surge, with Apple (AAPL) extending its streak of record closes to five in a row on Thursday (the streak was then broken with a small loss on Friday).
Investors received some important inflation data on Thursday -- namely, the Consumer Price Index for April -- which helped further fuel the bullish bias, coming in slightly below estimates (+0.2% actual vs +0.3% Briefing.com consensus), and thereby tempering concerns that the Fed might have to be more aggressive in its path to normalization.
Overseas, the Bank of England voted 7-2 in favor of keeping its official bank rate and its asset purchase program unchanged on Thursday, but BoE Governor Mike Carney added that interest rates will likely go up by the end of the year. Separately, President Trump announced that his summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un will be held on June 12 in Singapore, a positive stride in the quest for global peace.
The stock market ended the week with a flat performance on Friday. Volatility picked up temporarily in the afternoon when President Trump released a blueprint for lowering drug prices, but order was restored after it became clear that the blueprint still lacked many specific details.
Headlines provided by Briefing.com