Market Update & Important Indicators:
The S&P 500 snapped a two-week losing streak as the index climbed to another record Friday. Stocks were little changed overall in a quiet session Friday ahead of the long holiday weekend. It was the slowest trading day of the year, as measured by number of shares changing hands on major U.S. exchanges. The S&P 500 edged higher to its 20th record of the year and notched a weekly gain of 1.4%, its biggest since the end of April. The Nasdaq Composite also closed at a record. Stocks have risen on stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings, continued signs of a steady economy and expectations that the Federal Reserve will only raise rates gradually. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 2.67 points, or less than 0.1%, to 21080.28 on Friday. The S&P 500 added 0.75 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2415.82 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 4.94 points, or less than 0.1%, to 6210.19. The U.S. gold price rose strongly on Friday, jumping 0.9% to 1,266.70 US$/oz.
European stocks finished lower, leaving the regional benchmark with a tiny weekly loss. The Stoxx Europe 600 ended 0.2% lower at 391.35, led by the energy and financial sectors. But telecom, industrial and consumer-related shares logged modest gains. The Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas Index slumped 1.1%, under pressure after oil prices sank Thursday and were volatile Friday. The selloff came as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC members didn't include deeper crude-output cuts as part of a renewed agreement to cap production through March 2018. Output will remain at 1.8 million barrels a day. The oil sector pared deeper declines, helping the Stoxx Europe 600 record just a fractional loss for the week.
Asian stocks were mixed late Friday, with the big-oil reliant countries buckling under pressure from the overnight slide in oil prices. The Nikkei Stock Average was off 0.6% at the closing bell. Elsewhere, though, most indexes were in the green, with Korea's Kospi and India's Sensex hitting fresh record highs. The Kospi closed up 0.5%. After Moody's downgrade of China, investors will be watching even more cautiously for the country's manufacturing PMI data, due out next Wednesday. The Shanghai Composite Index ended the week up 0.6%.
Energy shares led broad weakness in the Australian market Friday after a pullback in oil prices with investors left disappointment that OPEC wasn't more aggressive in cutting crude production. Eroding modest gains over the last two days, the S&P/ASX 200 notched its sharpest fall in a week with a decline of 37.9 points, or 0.7%, to finish at 5751.7. That narrowed the week's gain to 0.4%, after a sharp 1.9% retreat the week before. Gains in Australian stocks were constrained by ongoing worries about banks, retail stocks and weakness in iron ore prices, said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital in Sydney. Oil prices fell further in Asian trading, extending overnight losses after OPEC renewed an agreement to cap output through March 2018. Chinese iron-ore futures were also lower in what had been a shaky week for the steel making commodity.
The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract closed down 1.16% at $5,658/t. The other base metals finished mostly higher on Friday. Lead prices rose 1.9% at 2,105/t, nickel prices rose 0.4% to 9,040/t, tin prices rose 0.1% at 20,558/t, whilst zinc prices rose 0.2% to 2,631/t. Bucking the trend was aluminium
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