U.S. Stocks Close Little Changed Following Lackluster Session

After moving sharply higher for two straight days, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Friday. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually ended the session narrowly mixed. While the Nasdaq edged down 4.55 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 15,047.70, the Dow crept up 33.18 points or 0.1 percent to 34,798.00 and the S&P 500 ticked up 6.50 points or 0.2 percent to 4,455.48.

For the week, the Dow and the S&P 500 rose by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, while the Nasdaq inched up by less than a tenth of a percent.

The lackluster performance on Wall Street came amid some uncertainty about the outlook for the markets following recent volatility.

Stocks moved sharply higher during trading on Wednesday and Thursday, but the advance came on the heels of a sell-off on Monday.

The Dow has climbed well off the three-month closing low set on Tuesday but remains sharply lower for the month of September.

Traders also expressed uncertainty about the situation with China Evergrande, as the indebted property company has not provided clarification about a key interest payment.

In U.S. economic news, a report released by the Commerce Department showed an unexpected increase in U.S. new home sales in the month of August.

The Commerce Department said new home sales jumped by 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 740,000 in August after spiking by 6.4 percent to an upwardly revised rate of 729,000 in July.

The continued advance surprised economists, who had expected new home sales to slump by 1.1 percent to a rate of 700,000 from the 708,000 originally reported for the previous month.

With the unexpected increase, new home sales continued to recover after tumbling to their lowest level in over a year in June.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.

Airline stocks extended a recent rally, however, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index climbing by 1.5 percent to its best closing level in well over two months.

On the other hand, biotechnology stocks showed a notable move to the downside on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index down by 1.3 percent.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index spiked by 2.1 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1 percent, the German DAX Index fell by 0.7 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries extended the notable downward move seen in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 5 basis points to 1.460 percent, its highest closing level since early July.

Looking Ahead

Next week’s trading may be impacted by reaction to reports on durable goods orders, consumer confidence, personal income and spending and manufacturing activity.

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