U.S. Stock Indexes Edge Mostly Lower; Oil Rises


Wall Street capped a record-setting week with a day of mostly listless trading Friday that left the three major U.S. stock indexes essentially flat.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed slightly lower. The Nasdaq composite eked out a tiny gain, giving the tech-heavy index its fourth record-high close in a week.

Investors mostly focused on the latest batch of company earnings from retailers and other companies, as well as new data indicating that U.S. retail sales in July were more sluggish than expected.

Materials companies fell the most. Energy stocks led the gainers as crude oil prices rose again.

The Dow fell 37.05 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,576.47. The S&P 500 index lost 1.74 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,184.05. The declines pulled both indexes slightly below their most-recent all-time highs set Thursday.

The Nasdaq bucked the trend, adding 4.50 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,232.89. The Nasdaq also closed at a record high last Friday, Tuesday and Thursday. It’s now up 11 percent over the past seven weeks, the longest winning streak for the index in more than four years.

Strong job growth, more stable oil prices and a crop of better-than-expected company earnings have helped lift stocks in recent weeks. This week, investors had their eye on the health of retailers. They welcomed the latest quarterly snapshots for Macy’s, Kohl’s and Nordstrom, sending their shares higher.

Some of that continued Friday as traders cheered results from Nordstrom, J.C. Penney and Dillard’s.

Even so, the government’s latest retail sales figures appeared to dampen on some of that optimism.

The Commerce Department said that U.S. retail sales held steady in July from the previous month, as Americans spent less at grocery stores, clothing shops, sporting goods and electronics and appliance outlets. Those declines were offset by big increases in auto sales and on online and catalog sales.

Oil prices added to recent gains.

Benchmark U.S. crude was rose $1, or 2.3 percent, to close at $44.49 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 93 cents, or 2 percent, to close at $46.97 a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline added a penny to $1.37 a gallon, while heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.41 a gallon. Natural gas gained 3 cents to $2.58 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The major stock indexes in Europe mostly closed lower. The DAX index in Germany fell 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 was slid 0.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE was flat.

Earlier in Asia, the Shanghai Composite index added 1.6 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8 percent after China reported retail sales and factory output increased sharply in July from a year earlier, even as they declined from June 2016’s levels. Elsewhere in the region, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index rose 1.1 percent.

Gold and other precious metals declined. Gold slid $6.70, or 0.5 percent, to $1,335.80 an ounce. Silver lost 32 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $19.70 an ounce. Copper fell 5 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $2.14 a pound.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.51 percent from 1.56 late Thursday.

In currency markets, the dollar weakened to 101.27 yen from 101.93 on Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.1164 from $1.1141.

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