U.S. Stocks Close Flat; Dow, S&P 500 Hit Fresh Record Highs

U.S. stocks ended roughly flat on Friday despite the Dow and the S&P 500 both climbing to fresh record highs early on in the session.

Data showing a significant drop in U.S. consumer sentiment, and concerns about the impact of surging cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus on growth outweighed buoyant earnings updates from some top notch companies.

The Dow, which rose to 35,610.57 in early trades, ended the session at 35,515.38, gaining 15.53 points or 0.04 percent. The S&P 500 ended up by 7.17 points or 0.16 percent at 4,468.00, while the Nasdaq settled with a gain of 6.64 points or 0.04 percent at 14,822.90.

The Dow gained about 0.9 percent in the week and the S&P 500 added 0.7 percent, while the Nasdaq edged down 0.1 percent.

The University of Michigan’s preliminary report said U.S. consumer sentiment slumped to 70.2 in August 2021, from 81.2 in the previous month and well below market expectations of 81.2. It was the lowest reading since December 2011,

Data from the Labor Department showed U.S. import prices rose by 0.3 percent in July after surging up by a revised 1.1 percent in June. Economists had expected import prices to climb by 0.6 percent in July compared to the 1 percent jump originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said export prices shot up by 1.3 percent in July following a 1.2 percent leap in the previous month. Export prices were expected to increase by 0.8 percent.

Walt Disney shares closed higher despite paring substantial portion of early gains. The stock rose on better-than-expected quarterly earnings and a strong growth of its customer base.

Salesforce.com moved higher on strong results. Microsoft, Netflix, Comcast and WPP closed higher.

DoorDash shares tumbled Friday morning after reporting wider second-quarter loss, but rebounded as the session progressed to close with a gain of about 3.5 percent.

Boeing, American Express, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs shed 1 to 1.4 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, European stocks closed higher on Friday, extending gains to a tenth successive session, amid continued optimism about corporate earnings, easing worries about U.S. inflation and hopes about global economic recovery.

The pan European Stoxx 600 gained 0.21 percent, hitting a fresh high in the process, and extending gains to a fourth straight week. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.35 percent, Germany’s DAX advanced 0.25 percent and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent.

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday, with the spread of the delta variant coronavirus and China’s regulatory curbs keeping underlying sentiment cautious. Investors also digested the news that the Chinese government has unveiled a five-year and 10-point plan outlining tighter regulation of much of its economy.

Looking Ahead

Data on retail sales, industrial production, building permits and Conference Board’s leading index, all for the month of July, are due in the coming week.

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