by Investing.com Staff, Investing.com
The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were Visa Inc (NYSE:V), which rose 2.79% or 6.91 points to trade at 254.91 at the close. Meanwhile, Caterpillar Inc (NYSE:CAT) fell 0.04% or 0.03 points to end at 79.97 and AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) was down 0.12% or 0.04 points to 32.92 in late trade.
The worst performers of the session were Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), which fell 3.83% or 1.61 points to trade at 40.40 at the close. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) declined 3.42% or 1.17 points to end at 33.04 and Cisco Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CSCO) was down 3.14% or 0.85 points to 26.36.
The top performers on the S&P 500 were Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) which rose 13.71% to 354.53, Biogen Idec Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB) which was up 10.17% to settle at 389.16 and Nabors Industries Ltd (NYSE:NBR) which gained 8.48% to close at 11.51.
The worst performers were PACCAR Inc (NASDAQ:PCAR) which was down 6.15% to 60.11 in late trade, Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:DAL) which lost 5.76% to settle at 47.32 and PulteGroup Inc (NYSE:PHM) which was down 5.64% to 20.59 at the close.
The top performers on the NASDAQ Composite were Gulf Resources Inc (NASDAQ:GURE) which rose 47.90% to 1.760, Books-A-Million Inc (NASDAQ:BAMM) which was up 44.83% to settle at 2.520 and Axion Power International Inc (NASDAQ:AXPW) which gained 39.83% to close at 0.81.
The worst performers were ADA-ES Inc (NASDAQ:ADES) which was down 46.47% to 10.61 in late trade, One Horizon (NASDAQ:OHGI) which lost 28.82% to settle at 1.21 and Hawaiian Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:HA) which was down 26.97% to 19.44 at the close.
Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 2169 to 626; on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, 2088 fell and 686 advanced, while 8 ended unchanged.
The dollar edged higher changed against the other major currencies on Friday, as the release of tepid U.S. data failed to dampen optimism over the strength of the country’s economic recovery.
In a revised report, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index ticked down to 98.1 in January from 98.2 the previous month, compared to expectations for an unchanged reading.
The UoM also said its inflation expectations for the next 12 months rose to 2.5% this month from 2.4% in December.
A separate report showed that the Chicago purchasing managers’ index rose to 59.4 this month from 58.8 in December, whose figure was revised up from a previously estimated reading of 58.3. Analysts had expected the index to fall to 57.5 in January.
The data came after Bureau of Economic Analysis said U.S. gross domestic product rose 2.6% in the last quarter of 2014, down from a previous estimate of 3.0% and from a growth rate of 5.0% in the three months to September.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, added 0.17% to 95.13, close to last Friday’s more than 11-year highs of 95.77.
EUR/USD slipped 0.24% to 1,1290 Eurostat reported that the annual rate of euro zone inflation fell by 0.6% in January, after a 0.2% slip in December. Economists had expected an annual decline of 0.5%.
Core inflation, which strips out volatile measures such as food and energy costs, rose 0.5% on a year-over-year basis, but was still well below the European Central Bank’s target of close to, but just under 2%.
In a separate report, Eurostat said the euro zone’s unemployment rate ticked down to 11.4% in December from 11.5% the previous month, confounding expectations for the rate to remain unchanged.
The pound also declined, with GBP/USD down 0.45% to trade at 1.4997.
Data earlier showed that U.K. net lending to individuals fell to £2.2 billion in December from a revised £3.1 billion in November, while another report showed that U.K. mortgage approvals rose by 60,280 last month after a downwardly revised 58,960 increase in November.
In addition, the U.K. Gfk consumer confidence index improved to 1 this month from minus 4 in December, compared to expectations for a reading of minus 2.
A preliminary report earlier showed that Japanese industrial production rose 1.0% in December, confounding expectations for an increase of 1.3%, while a separate report showed that household spending in Japan rose 0.4% last month, below expectations for a 0.3% gain.
In Switzerland, the KOF Economic Research Agency said that its economic barometer fell to 97.0 this month from 98.8 in December, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated reading of 98.7. Analysts had expected the index to decline to 97.5 in January.
The Canadian dollar hit fresh six-year lows, with USD/CAD climbing 0.76% to 1.2716 after Statistics Canada said the country’s GPD fell 0.2% in November, compared to expectations for a 0.1% downtick and after a 0.3% gain in October.
The biggest sentiment swings this week were to bullish bullish on gold and less bearish of the yen. The euro remained at a bearish extreme.
Gold prices rose on Friday, easing off two-week lows hit after upbeat U.S. jobless claims data and the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy statement, while investors eyed the release of additional U.S. economic reports due later in the day.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for April delivery were up 0.46% to $1,262.10.
The April contract ended Thursday’s session 2.43% lower at $1,255.90 an ounce.
Gold futures dropped after the U.S. Department of Labor reported on Thursday that the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits decreased by 43,000 to 265,000 last week. Analysts had expected initial jobless claims to decline by 8,000 to 300,000 last week.
The upbeat data added to optimism over the strength of the economy and fuelled expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin to raise rates sooner than previously thought.
The U.S. central bank upgraded its assessment of the economy and the labor market on Wednesday, leaving it on track to raise rates in the second half of this year.
Expectations of higher borrowing rates going forward is considered bearish for gold, as the precious metal struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets when rates are on the rise.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was down 0.09% to 94.89, holding below last Friday’s more than 11-year highs of 95.77.
A stronger U.S. dollar usually weighs on gold, as it dampens the metal’s appeal as an alternative asset and makes dollar-priced commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Market participants were eyeing preliminary data on fourth quarter growth as well as reports on business activity in the Chicago region and revised data on consumer sentiment, due later in the day, for further indications on the strength of the U.S. economic recovery.
Crude oil futures rallied over 1% on Friday, on the back of a weaker dollar but the commodity still remained within close distance of a nearly six-year low as ongoing concerns over a glut in global supplies continued to weigh.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. crude oil for delivery in March traded $0.56 or 1.26% higher to $45.10 a barrel during European early afternoon trade.
Prices rose $0.08 or 0.18% on Thursday to settle at $44.53.
Futures were likely to find support at $43.58, Thursday’s low and a nearly six-year low and resistance at $46.55, the high from January 27.
Oil prices have fallen nearly 60% since June as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries resisted calls to cut output, while the U.S. pumped at the fastest pace in more than three decades, creating a glut in global supplies.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, slipped 0.27% to 94.71, moving away from last Friday’s more than 11-year highs of 95.77.
Oil prices typically strengthen when the U.S. currency weakens as the dollar-priced commodity becomes cheaper for holders of other currencies.
The commodity hit a nearly six-year low on Thursday after the Federal Reserve indicated that interest rates could start to rise around mid-year.
Following its policy meeting, the Fed said it would keep rates on hold at least until June and reiterated its pledge to be patient on raising interest rates, while acknowledging the solid economic recovery and strong growth in the labor market.
Market participants were eyeing preliminary U.S. data on fourth quarter growth as well as reports on business activity in the Chicago region and revised data on consumer sentiment, due later in the day, for further indications on the strength of the economic recovery.
Elsewhere, on the ICE Futures Exchange in London, Brent oil for March delivery jumped $0.54, or 1.10%, to hit $49.67 a barrel, with the spread between the Brent and the WTI crude contracts standing at $4.57.
Natural gas futures plunged to a 28-month low on Thursday, after data showed that U.S. natural gas supplies fell less than forecast last week, underlining concerns over weak demand.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in March tumbled to $2.694 per million British thermal units, a level not seen since September 2012, before trading at $2.710 during U.S. morning hours, down 13.3 cents, or 4.66%.
Futures were likely to find support at $2.647 per million British thermal units, the low from September 2012, and resistance at $2.895, the high from January 28.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended January 23 fell by 94 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for a decline of 113 billion and slowing from a drop of 216 billion in the previous week.
Inventories fell by 219 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change is a drop of 168 billion cubic feet.
Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.543 trillion cubic feet. Stocks were 324 billion cubic feet higher than last year at this time and 79 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 2.622 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.
A day earlier, natural gas lost 9.3 cents, or 3.17%, to settle at $2.842 as investors assessed the near-term demand outlook in the aftermath of Tuesday’s Northeast blizzard.
Updated weather forecasting models said that below-normal temperatures in the East may give way to higher readings by the middle of February, dampening demand expectations for the heating fuel.
Bearish speculators are betting on the near-normal weather reducing winter demand for the heating fuel.
The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.
Natural gas prices have been extremely volatile in recent sessions as investors react to daily changes in weather patterns. Futures have either gained or declined more than 2% in 13 of the past 16 trading days.
Prices are down almost 40% since mid-November as an unusually mild start to winter limited demand while production soared.