Wall Street ends mixed at close of earnings-packed week

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By Robert Fofana

Wall Street ends mixed at close of earnings-packed week
© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 26, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Friday, losing momentum as investors digested a hectic week of mixed earnings, and economic data that seemed to support the “higher for longer” interest rate scenario.

The Nasdaq advanced, with tech and tech-adjacent momentum stocks led by Amazon.com (NASDAQ:), Apple (NASDAQ:) and Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:) providing much of the heavy lifting, while the and the lost ground.

All three indexes notched weekly losses steeper than 2%.

The benchmark S&P 500 closed 10.28% below its July 31 closing high.

“It’s hard to fight the trend in the market, and the trend has been lower,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky. “Earnings have been fine but they’re not providing the kind of catalyst to spark a reversal to the upside.”

The Commerce Department’s hotly anticipated Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report showed inflation gradually cooling down as expected, getting closer to the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual target while consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the U.S. economy, posted a robust upside surprise.

“The economy would be just fine with inflation around 3%,” Mayfield added. “It’s that last mile of getting where we are today to the Fed target. It just depends how aggressively (the Fed) want(s) to pursue a hard 2%. That’s the big question.”

The data did little to move the needle regarding market expectations that the Fed will leave its key interest rate unchanged at its November policy meeting.

Market participants are nearing the end of a busy earnings week, during which nearly one-third of the companies in the S&P 500 posted third-quarter results.

As of Friday, the reporting season had essentially reached the halfway point, with 245 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 78% have delivered consensus-beating earnings.

Analysts now expect aggregate annual S&P earnings growth of 4.3%, a sharp improvement over the 1.6% growth seen at the beginning of the month.

“Big tech earnings were priced for perfection, and they were mostly just ‘good.’ That was not enough,” Mayfield said. “But the broader picture is good. This could be the building blocks for a rally to year end.”

Amazon.com jumped 6.8% after the e-commerce giant reported its cloud business growth is stabilizing and predicted a revenue increase over the holiday season.

Intel (NASDAQ:) surged 9.3% following the chipmaker’s consensus-beating quarterly report, lifting the whole sector.

The advanced 1.2%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 366.71 points, or 1.12%, to 32,417.59, the S&P 500 lost 19.86 points, or 0.48%, at 4,117.37 and the added 47.41 points, or 0.38%, at 12,643.01.

Among the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, energy suffered the steepest percentage drop. Consumer discretionary tech and communication services were the only gainers.

Chevron (NYSE:) dropped 6.7% after the oil and gas company reported lower third-quarter profit. Shares of Exxon Mobil (NYSE:) gave up early gains, falling 1.9% after it posted a 54% year-on-year drop in profit.

Ford Motor (NYSE:) sank 12.2% after it withdrew its full-year forecast due to “uncertainty” over the pending ratification of its deal with the United Auto Workers union, and warned of continued pressure on electric vehicles.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 2.69-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.08-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 67 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 10 new highs and 478 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.55 billion shares, compared with the 10.69 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

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