Major US stock indices on Friday ended little changed after a listless day of trading ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend capped a solid week of gains for the market.
A late-afternoon flurry of buying gave the S&P 500 its third straight gain. The benchmark index also snapped a string of four consecutive weekly losses.
Even so, the market closed out last month with its second monthly decline this year after May.
Financial, industrial and healthcare stocks were among the big winners. Those sectors outweighed losses in consumer goods makers and communication services stocks.
Shares in companies that rely on consumer spending also fell.
The stock indices wavered between small gains and losses throughout much of the day, with trading volumes lighter than usual.
“Going into a holiday weekend, you just have three days here where you’re not going to be able to reposition, so people are probably taking some profits and squaring their books ahead of the weekend,” Wells Fargo Investment Institute senior global market strategist Sameer Samana said.
The S&P 500 on Friday edged up 1.88 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,926.46, jumping 2.8 percent from a close of 2,847.11 on Aug. 23.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday rose 41.03 points, or 0.2 percent, to 26,403.28, a surge of 3 percent from 25,628.90 a week earlier.
The NASDAQ Composite on Friday gave up an early gain, sliding 10.51 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,962.88, but still gained 2.7 percent from 7,751.77 on Aug. 23.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks on Friday dropped 1.88 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,494.84, rising 2.4 percent from a close of 1,459.49 a week earlier.
The major indices this week stemmed their slide for last month, but still ended the month with losses.
The Dow dropped 1.7 percent, the S&P 500 lost 1.8 percent and the NASDAQ gave up 2.6 percent. The Russell took the heaviest losses for the month, falling 5.1 percent.
Trading turned volatile last month as investors worried that an escalating trade war between the US and China, as well as a slowing global economy, could tip the US into a recession.
The bond market seemingly confirmed these fears when long-term bond yields fell below short-term ones, a so-called inversion in the US yield curve that has correctly predicted previous recessions.
“We found the limits of how far both the US and the Chinese side can push the trade issue until it actually starts to manifest itself in markets,” Samana said. “And where you probably saw the bulk of that reaction is in the fixed-income market. That’s why you saw long-term yields basically collapse.”
Bond prices initially fell on Friday, pushing yields higher, but then lost momentum. That pushed long-term bond yields further below short-term ones.
Investors on Friday also weighed a mixed batch of corporate earnings reports.
Campbell Soup Co rose 3.9 percent and Big Lots Inc added 3.4 percent. Both companies reported quarterly profits that easily beat analysts’ forecasts.
Ulta Beauty Inc plunged 29.6 percent, its biggest drop ever, after the company reported weak results and cut its estimates.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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