US stocks close little changed

  • 22/10/2016

The S&P 500 and the Dow were little changed and the Nasdaq advanced as a record day for Microsoft and earnings from McDonald's helped offset a fall in energy and healthcare shares.

General Electric, often seen as an economic bellwether, weighed on the market on Friday as the industrial conglomerate posted results that topped expectations but cut its full-year revenue target to send shares down 0.9 percent after it touched an 8-month low of US$28.33.

A stronger US dollar, which touched its highest level since early February, also pulled on sentiment as it could dent the earnings of large multinationals.

"The dollar is getting stronger, that is going to have a negative impact on energy prices, that is going to have a negative impact on corporate earnings, at least potentially," said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors, in New York.

The energy index was off 0.7 percent, while health declined 0.9 percent.

But gains in Microsoft and McDonald's on the back of their strong quarterly reports helped keep losses in check.

"Earnings, frankly have started out little better than I thought they would, and a little better than the consensus thought they would. You had a couple of good companies like Microsoft, which is skewing things positively," said Orlando.

Microsoft was up 4.3 percent at a record closing high of US$59.69, while McDonald's was up 3 percent at US$113.93.

With 23 percent of S&P 500 companies posting results, earnings are now expected to show growth of 1.1 percent for the third quarter, up from the 0.5 percent decline expected at the start of the month, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 16.64 points, or 0.09 percent, to 18,145.71, the S&P 500 lost 0.18 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,141.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 15.57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,257.40.

For the week, the Dow edged up 0.04, the S&P rose 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.8 percent.

Telecoms, down 2.3 percent, were lower for a second straight session. AT&T lost 3 percent on news the wireless carrier was in advanced talks to buy Time Warner , whose stock surged 7.8 percent.

In other deal news, Reynolds American jumped 14 percent after British American Tobacco offered to buy the 58 percent of the tobacco company it does not already own in a US$47 billion (NZ$65 billion) takeover.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.04-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.20-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 8 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 52 new highs and 38 new lows.

About 5.97 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, below the 6.4 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.