May 17, 2021

Wall Street Halts Slide, but Ends Week Mixed

Stocks rose on Friday, as strong earnings from big companies lifted the Dow Jones industrial average, but the broader Standard Poor’s 500-stock index posted its first weekly loss of the year.

The Dow closed up 119.95 points, or 0.9 percent, at 14,000.57, its third-biggest daily gain this year. The S. P. 500 rose 13.18 points, also 0.9 percent, to 1,515.60. The Nasdaq composite index rose 30.33, or 1 percent, to 3,161.82.

The S. P. 500 and Nasdaq closed slightly lower for the week, while the Dow edged higher.

Bill Stone, chief investment strategist with PNC Wealth Management, said he expected stocks to hold up despite the volatility this week.

“You’re going to get bumps and bruises along the way, but we do believe things are actually getting better, so I think there’s underlying demand” for stocks, Mr. Stone said.

Investors sent stocks plunging Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting revealed disagreement over how long the Fed should continue to buy bonds in an effort to support the economy. The slide continued Thursday. The Dow lost 155 points over those two days.

Many analysts say the Fed’s bond-buying and resulting low interest rates have driven this year’s stock rally, which lifted indexes to their highest levels since before the 2008 financial crisis. The Dow is now just 164 points below its nominal record close of 14,164, reached in October 2007.

United States stocks followed European stocks higher after a survey of German business optimism showed an increase in sentiment, adding to evidence that the country would avoid a recession. Germany’s economic vitality is crucial for the beleaguered region, offsetting economic contraction in surrounding countries.

“Germany is really the bedrock,” Mr. Stone said. “If it gives way, then you have real problems.”

The CAC-40 in France rose 2.2 percent, and the Germany DAX gained 1 percent.

The biggest gainer on Friday in both the Dow and S. P. 500 was Hewlett-Packard, which beat all forecasts when it posted its first-quarter results late Thursday, a relief after months of bad news. H.P.’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange rose $2.10, or 12.3 percent, to $19.20.

Cabot Oil Gas was the S. P. 500’s second-best performer, a day after the company reported earnings above analysts’ expectations. Its stock rose $5.95, or 11.1 percent, to $59.81.

Shares in the American International Group jumped after the company’s fourth-quarter operating results exceeded analysts’ forecasts. Its net loss was $4 billion, mainly because of claims related to Hurricane Sandy. A.I.G. shares rose $1.17, or 3.1 percent, to $38.45. Abercrombie Fitch shares sank after a crucial sales measure declined in the all-important holiday quarter. The stock fell $2.19, or 4.5 percent, to $46.86.

Stock in WebMD Health, a health Web site operator, soared after the company reported better-than-expected revenue and an optimistic outlook for 2013. The shares rose $4.14, or 25.4 percent, to $20.44.

Texas Instruments stock rose strongly after the company said it would increase its dividend by a third and buy back up to $5 billion more of its own stock. Its shares gained $1.70, or 5.2 percent, to $34.18.

Interest rates were steady. The Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note rose 3/32, to 100 11/32, and the yield fell to 1.96 percent, from 1.97 percent late Thursday.

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