Market Wrap for Friday, March 1: Stocks Post Small Gains to Close Out Week
Stocks were up slightly on Friday as a series of economic reports gave investors a mixed picture of the state of the economy. Personal income for January fell, but spending was up slightly. Consumer sentiment data and manufacturing sentiment were also positive, but construction spending surprisingly fell in January. A higher U.S. dollar and lower euro also limited market gains on the day. Nevertheless, all of the major averages closed in the green and the Dow Jones Industrial Average continues to hold above 14,000.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 35 points, or 0.25 percent, to 14,090.
The S&P 500 added around 3.5 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,518.
The Nasdaq Composite was up almost 10 points, or 0.30 percent, to 3,170.
Personal Income and Spending
Personal income fell 3.6 percent in January after rising 2.6 percent in December. This compared to consensus estimates of a decline of 2.4 percent.
While personal income was down, spending rose in January. For the month, personal spending was up 0.2 percent after a gain of 0.1 percent in December. The January spending figures were in line with consensus estimates.
The final reading for the February University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was released on Friday. The data showed that the index rose to 77.6 versus a preliminary reading of 76.3. This was a gain versus the 73.8 reading from January. Consensus estimates called for a reading of 76.3.
Data from the ISM Manufacturing Index showed that manufacturing activity rose in February. The index climbed from 53.1 in January to 54.2 in the most recent month. The reading was the strongest since June 2011 and came in ahead of consensus expectations calling for a decline to 52.4.
While other economic reports showed strength, construction spending fell 2.1 percent in January after rising 1.1 percent in December. This was significantly worse than consensus expectations calling for an increase of 0.5 percent.
Crude oil fell on Friday despite a higher equity market. Near the close of stock trading, NYMEX crude futures had lost around 1.30 percent to $90.85. Brent crude oil had lost a little less than 1 percent to $110.54. Natural gas futures also fell on the session and were last down 0.80 percent to $3.46.
Precious metals were little changed on Friday. COMEX gold futures lost 0.17 percent to $1,575.30 in late trade. Silver was last trading up around 0.20 percent to $28.53.
In the agricultural complex, both corn and wheat recorded modest gains. Late in the day, corn was up 0.71 percent and wheat had climbed 0.84 percent. Significant movers in soft commodities included cocoa, which was down 2.50 percent, sugar and orange juice concentrate futures. Sugar fell 2.60 percent and orange juice lost more than 5 percent.
Near the close of equity trading, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE: TLT) was up around 0.50 percent to $118.83.
With the exception of the 2-Year Note, yields fell on the day. The 5-Year Note yield lost two basis points to 0.75 percent. Both the 10-Year Note and 30-Year Bond yields lost three basis points to 1.85 percent and 3.06 percent, respectively.
A number of currency pairs made sharp moves on Friday and overall the greenback was higher. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE: UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, added around 0.36 percent to $22.45.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last trading down 0.30 percent to $1.3018 as the euro is approaching a key support level. The U.S. dollar also continued its rise against the Japanese yen with the USD/JPY climbing more than 1 percent. The British Pound also fell sharply against the greenback with the GBP/USD losing nearly 1 percent on Friday.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX was close to unchanged on Friday, falling less than 0.40 percent to 15.45.
Volume was slightly heavier than usual on the session. Around 137 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY) shares traded hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 134 million.
Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG) recouped some of Thursday's losses after analysts backed the company in the wake of an FDA examination of its safety data. The stock fell 11 percent on Thursday, but bounced back more than 8 percent on Friday.
Foster Wheeler (NASDAQ: FWLT) shares lost more than 16 percent after the company's fiscal Q4 earnings report.
McDermott International (NYSE: MDR) plunged 16 percent after a disappointing fourth-quarter earnings report.
OmniVision Technologies (NASDAQ: OVTI) plunged 12 percent after disappointing Q3 earnings results and an analyst downgrade.
Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) surged almost 8 percent on Friday after the company delivered fourth-quarter results which were ahead of expectations.
Shares of small-cap medical supplies company Nanosphere (NASDAQ: NSPH) rose almost 14 percent on the session after Cannacord Genuity launched coverage on the stock with a Buy rating and $5 price target.
Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ: SBGI) jumped nearly 13 percent after the company agreed to buy the broadcast assets of 18 television stations owned by Barrington Broadcasting Group LLC for $370 million. Sinclair also agreed to operate or provide sales services for six other stations.
Mentor Graphics (NASDAQ: MENT) fell 5 percent after releasing its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings results.
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