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Stocks Barely Budge Friday             08/14 16:28

   Stock indexes barely budged on Wall Street Friday, leaving the S&P 500 just 
shy of its record once again.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock indexes barely budged on Wall Street Friday, leaving 
the S&P 500 just shy of its record once again.

   The S&P 500 edged down 0.58, or less than 0.1%, to 3,372.85 after drifting 
between small gains and losses throughout the day. They're the latest 
meandering moves for the market, which has taken a pause after erasing almost 
all of the steep losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

   In each of the prior two days, the S&P 500 made a brief run above its record 
closing high, which was set in February, only to fade in the afternoon. It 
remains within 0.4% of its record.

   Wall Street was nearly evenly split between stocks that rose and fell, and 
the moves were almost uniformly modest. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched 
up 34.30 points, or 0.1%, to 27,931.02, while the Nasdaq composite dipped 
23.20, or 0.2%, to 11,019.30.

   Consumer spending is the main locomotive for the U.S. economy, and a report 
on Friday showed some more improvements for U.S. retailers, though less than 
economists expected.

   Sales at grocery stores, gas stations and other retailers rose 1.2% last 
month from June. It's the third straight month of gains, following a historic 
plunge in the spring, but it marked a sharp slowdown from June's 8.4% growth. 
It also fell short of the 2% growth that economists were expecting.

   The report showed that the economy is now "more in a gentle phase of 
recovery," said Mike Zigmont, director of trading and research at Harvest 
Volatility Management.

   "It's positive, but it's not as ballistic as it was before," he said.

   Economists say consumer spending could be under more pressure following the 
expiration of U.S. government programs to aid the economy, including $600 in 
extra unemployment benefits each week. Investors say it's crucial that 
Washington deliver another lifeline to the economy, and markets seem to be 
assuming a deal will happen.

   But Democrats and Republicans say they remain far apart on a possible 
compromise.

   "Congress has to follow up on the stimulus package because they essentially 
promised it," Zigmont said.

   "Main Street America is counting on it," he said. "You can't pull the rug 
out from under the world."

   The day's trading was notably quiet, with only a few stocks in the S&P 500 
falling even 2%. Among the biggest gainers in the index was Applied Materials, 
which rose 3.9%. The tech company reported stronger results for the summer than 
analysts expected and also gave a better-than-expected forecast for the current 
quarter.

   Outside the S&P 500, shares of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac more 
than tripled in their first day of trading. After selling shares at $16 in an 
initial public offering, the stock jumped to $55.90. The company, whose backers 
include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the German government, is 
developing a vaccine against COVID-19 and other medicines using messenger RNA.

   Friday's drift for the S&P 500 left it with a gain of 0.6% for the week. 
It's the sixth rise in the last seven weeks for the index, but it's also the 
slowest in the last three.

   Treasury yields also slowed their big jump from earlier in the week. The 
yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 0.71%. It had been at 0.57% just 
on Monday. It climbed through the week after a couple reports on inflation came 
in higher than expected and after the U.S. Treasury auctioned off more bonds to 
help cover the government's huge deficit.

   In Europe, stocks trended lower after Britain said it was imposing a 14-day 
quarantine on travelers from France, which said it would respond in kind. 
Tourism and travel stocks were hit particularly hard, such as budget airlines 
easyJet and IAG.

   France's CAC 40 dropped 1.6%, while Germany's DAX lost 0.7%. The FTSE 100 in 
London fell 1.5%.

   Asian markets were mixed after China reported its factory output rose 4.8% 
in July from a year earlier, on par with June's increase. Retail sales fell 
1.1%, as consumers remain cautious.

   Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.2%, and South Korea's Kospi slipped 
1.2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.2% after gyrating earlier in the day, 
while stocks in Shanghai gained 1.2%.

   Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 23 cents to settle at $42.01 per barrel. 
Brent crude, the international standard, fell 16 cents to $44.80.

   Gold for delivery in December fell $20.60 to settle at $1,949.80 per ounce.

    

    

    

 
 
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