Stocks closed with gains Friday, the latest nudge forward for a market that has taken a decidedly slow-and-steady path to record highs. Telecom and utility stocks led the way, as they have for much of this year.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 9.9 points, about 0.5 percent, at 2,175. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 53.6 points, about 0.3 percent, to nearly 18,571. The Nasdaq composite added 26.3 points, about 0.5 percent, to 5,100.2.
ANALYST’S OPINION: “I think people are a little more sensitized, where any tick lower in the market creates this ‘buy-on-the-dip’ mentality,” said analyst Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management. “I think it’s interesting; a half-a-percent move down feels like a 5 percent move.”
ANOTHER MILD ONE: It’s been a calm drive the last two weeks for the S&P 500, where mostly modest gains have helped set a series of records culminating in its all-time high of 2,173.02 set on Wednesday. The S&P 500 has yet to have a day where it moved by 1 percent, up or down, in the last two weeks.
Many doubts are still hanging over the market, including the continued drop for corporate earnings and a U.S. economy that is growing only modestly. Various earnings and economic reports have come in better than expected, however, and the S&P 500 is up more than 8 percent since June 27.
It’s a sharp turnaround from the end of June, when worries about the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union sent the S&P 500 down for six straight days.
WINNING STREAK: The S&P 500 had a modest gain for the week, the fourth consecutive week higher for the index, its longest winning streak since March.
BIGGER WAVES AHEAD? Next week could be a more exciting for markets, with the Bank of Japan and Federal Reserve both holding policy meetings. Record-low interest rates and big stimulus programs from central banks have pushed stocks higher since the financial crisis.
Japan’s economy is barely growing, and economists are speculating about whether its central bank may push more stimulus next week.
The U.S. economy is in better shape than other advanced economies, but few expect the Federal Reserve to make a big move at its meeting. But if it highlights the better-than-expected recent economic reports, economists may move up their predictions for when the Fed could next raise interest rates. The Fed pulled rates off their record low in December but has held pat since then.