U.S. stocks ended sharply higher Friday, with the technology sector helping to alleviate some of the week’s losses as investors digested mixed earnings reports and worried about slowing economic growth.
How stock indexes traded
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
erased an early decline to rise 330.93 points, or 1%, to close at 33,375.49.
The S&P 500
gained 73.76 points, or 1.9%, to finish at 3,972.61.
The Nasdaq Composite jumped 288.17 points, or 2.7%, to end at 11,140.43.
For the week, the Dow and S&P 500 booked losses, snapping two straight weeks of gains, after Thursday marked the third straight daily drop for both benchmarks. The Dow saw a weekly decline of 2.7%, while the S&P 500 fell 0.7% and the Nasdaq notched a weekly rise of 0.6%. The Nasdaq booked a third straight week of gains.
What drove markets?
Investors have been dogged this week by mixed earnings reports and data on the economy’s strength ahead of a Federal Reserve policy meeting in early February.
Some of Friday’s gains are “just a snapback” from “a pretty down week,” said Paul Nolte, senior wealth manager and market strategist at Murphy & Sylvest Wealth Management, in a phone interview Friday. “You got investors that are doing a little bit of shopping at the end of the week.”
The S&P 500, which has been struggling to push above 4,000, on Friday posted its best daily percentage gain since Jan. 6, but also a weekly loss of 0.7%, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
“Overall, the SPX (S&P 500) is in no-mans land, stuck between 4100 resistance and 3700 support, all within an ongoing downtrend with modest signs of internal momentum,” said Jeff deGraaf, chairman and head of technical research at Renaissance Macro, in a Friday note.
In economic news Friday, U.S. existing-home sales fell 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.02 million in December, the National Association of Realtors said. That was the 11th straight monthly decline, the longest losing streak since NAR began tracking sales in 1999.
Still, “that was a little stronger than expected,” said Jay Willoughby, chief investment officer at TIFF Investment Management, by phone Friday. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal were expecting existing-home sales to drop to 3.95 million.
“Economic data from the U.S. this week has been far less promising,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst, at OANDA in a note Friday. “Rather than focus on disinflation and the labor market, it’s been other economic indicators and earnings that have taken the spotlight and it hasn’t been great.”
Investors have been closely monitoring comments by Fed speakers for clues about the central bank’s tightening plans in light of weak economic data.
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates significantly throughout the economy and now it the time to “slow, but not halt” the pace of increase, said Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller, on Friday.
Markets have also been juggling corporate earnings reports, which have been something of a mixed bag.
Shares of Netflix Inc.
climbed 8.5% after the video-streaming company announced it had gained 7.7 million new subscribers in the final quarter, and founder Reed Hastings said he’ll move to executive chairman as a new co-CEO was named.
Netflix was helping lead gains for the Nasdaq, alongside a 5.3% rise for Google parent Alphabet
which announced Friday that it plans to cut 12,000 jobs globally. Those layoffs add to a string of tech companies making similar announcements, such as Amazon.com Inc.
Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp.
“For so long companies have been reluctant to lay staff off following the post-pandemic re-hiring struggles but the tide appears to be turning and it could accelerate from here, at which point the economic data may become much more downbeat,” said Oanda’s Erlam.
Next week will bring a massive lineup of earnings reports, including from Microsoft Corp
and McDonald’s Corp.
“Companies are trying to cut costs,” said Willoughby. “Earnings are at risk.”
Companies in focus
In a regulatory filing late Thursday, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc.
said it had received a warning that it is not in compliance for continued Nasdaq listing because the company has not yet filed its Form 10-Q quarterly report with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Shares of the meme-stock tumbled 11.6%.
—Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this report.