Major U.S. stock indexes ended little changed Friday 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 August with its second monthly decline this year, after May.
Financial, industrial and health care 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 indexes wavered between small gains and losses through much of the day, with trading volumes lighter than usual.
The S&P 500 edged up 1.88 points, or 0.1%, to 2,926.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 41.03 points, or 0.2%, to 26,403.28. The Nasdaq gave up an early gain, sliding 10.51 points, or 0.1%, to7,962.88. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 1.88 points, or 0.1%, to 1,494.84.
The major indexes stemmed their August slide this week, but still ended the month with losses. The Dow dropped 1.7%, the S&P 500 lost 1.8% and the Nasdaq gave up 2.6%. The Russell took the heaviest losses for the month, falling 5.1%.
Trading turned volatile in August as investors worried that the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China and a slowing global economy could tip the U.S. 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 U.S. yield curve that has correctly predicted recessions.
Bond prices initially fell Friday, pushing yields higher, but then lost momentum. That pushed long-term bond yields further below short-term ones. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.50% from 1.51% late Thursday. The 2-year Treasury yield dropped to 1.51% from 1.55% the day before.
Washington and Beijing are deadlocked in talks over U.S. complaints about China’s trade surplus and industrial plans, which its trading partners say are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology.
Last week, the trade conflict escalated again with both sides threatening new tariffs on each other’s goods, triggering a sharp sell-off in global markets.
Some of the Trump administration’s additional tariffs on Chinese products take effect Sunday and others on Dec. 15. In addition, higher tariffs on a separate group of Chinese products are to take effect Oct. 1.
Negotiators meet next month in Washington after the latest round of talks in July in Shanghai produced no sign of progress.
Benchmark crude oil fell $1.61 to settle at $55.10 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 65 cents to close at $60.43 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 7 cents to $1.61 per gallon. Heating oil declined 3 cents to $1.83 per gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent to $2.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold fell $7.40 to $1519.10 per ounce, silver rose 2 cents to $18.19 per ounce and copper fell 3 cents to $2.53 per pound.
The dollar fell to 106.25 Japanese yen from 106.62 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.0978 from $1.1052.