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U.S. stock slip as investors evaluate earnings reports

The American flag flies above the Wall Street

The American flag flies above the Wall Street entrance to the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 13, 2015.   Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Energy and real estate companies led U.S. stock indexes slightly lower and mixed in late-afternoon trading Friday after a mostly listless day on Wall Street.

Health care stocks were up the most. Investors were sizing up earnings from big companies. Bond yields fell after the government reported that the economy lost momentum in the last three months of 2016.

ON WALL STREET: At the close of trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down nearly 2 points, about 0.09 percent, at 2,294.7. The Dow Jones industrial average, which tracks 30 big industrial companies, was down 7.1 points, about 0.04 percent, at 20,093.8. The Nasdaq composite added 5.6 points, about 0.1 percent, to 5,660.8.

BOND PRICES: Bond prices rose after the government reported its latest quarterly estimate of the nation’s economic growth. At the close the 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.48 percent from 2.51 percent late Thursday.

OIL PRICES: As markets closed, benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 59 cents to $53.19 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London on the Intercontinental Exchange Europe, Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 8 cents to $55.44 a barrel.

THE ECONOMY: The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of just 1.9 percent in the last three months of 2016, a slowdown from 3.5 percent in the previous quarter. For 2016, the economy grew 1.6 percent, the worst showing since 2011 and down from 2.6 percent in 2015. A separate government report showed businesses spent more on industrial machinery, semiconductors and other big-ticket items last month, a sign U.S. manufacturers seem to be doing better after a two-year slump.

ANALYST’S VIEW: “The market right now is at sort of at a crossroads,” said analyst Tom Siomades, head of Hartford Funds Investment Consulting Group. “We hit that huge psychological barrier and busted through it when [the Dow] hit 20,000 . . . but today’s GDP number came in, for the most part, below expectations and brought everyone back down to Earth.”

TRUMP ECONOMY: Investors remain focused on the latest moves by President Donald Trump. His spokesman said the administration was considering slapping a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico to help pay for his promised border wall, in an announcement that left markets uncertain about what it means for trade.

“I don’t know anyone who would think of a trade war as good thing, or tariffs,” Siomades said. “When you start going down that path, then the market all of a sudden retracts and says, ‘Wait a minute, we have 1.9 percent GDP growth, how are higher tariffs and restriction on trade going to make that better?’ ”

LUNAR NEW YEAR: Markets in China, South Korea and Taiwan were closed while Malaysia was open only for the morning session. Many Asian countries have begun holidays of varying lengths, curtailing trading across much of the region. China will take the longest break, shutting down for an entire week.


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