Wednesday, March 12, 2014
NEW YORK - U.S. stocks fell for the first week in five as the prospects of the Federal Reserve starting to reduce its bond-buying stimulus rattled a market trading at historic highs.
Friday's losses, however, were mild as investors found some support from a stronger-than-forecast report on demand for big-ticket purchases and after the prior session's improvement in jobless claims.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended Friday with an 8.6-point gain, up 0.1 percent at 15,303.10 after losing 95 points early in the session. It lost 0.3 percent for the week.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped 0.91 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,649.6. The index lost 1.1 percent for the week.
The Nasdaq composite lost 0.3 point, or 0.01 percent, to 3,459.14, off 1.1 percent for the week.
The indexes opened with moderate losses, with the Dow off about 60 points, then slumped further around midmorning before coming back to trade at their session highs.
During the week, the benchmark indexes reached all-time or multiyear highs. But they reversed Wednesday after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled the central bank could start reducing its bond-buying program in the next few meetings.
Also weighing this week: violent swings in Japanese stocks and the yen, related to both the Fed comments and statements from Japanese officials regarding their country's own stimulus efforts, whose acceleration in April coincided with the latest rally in developed-world stocks. Analysts said the weekly moves reflect a short yen, long dollar and equities trade that had grown too crowded.
"The market likely will be in a push-and-pull scenario as growth moves forward and investors speculate on future Fed action," said Michael Yoshikami, CEO of Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, Calif., in an email interview.
Helping lift sentiment a bit, the Commerce Department said orders for long-lasting, big-ticket U.S. goods rose 3.3 percent in April, led by higher demand for aircraft, military wares and autos. That beat forecasts, as economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a 1.4 percent gain.
U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Memorial Day, and U.K. markets will be closed Monday for a holiday.
"Profit-taking ahead of a long weekend in the U.S. and U.K. appears to be the name of the game today," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets, in emailed remarks.
Helping stabilize the Dow, component Procter & Gamble Inc. advanced 4 percent after the consumer products giant said late Thursday that A.G. Lafley would return as chief executive, replacing the embattled Bob McDonald, whose tenure had been criticized by an activist investor.