The Journal Gazette
Friday, February 14, 2020 11:50 am

Stocks wobble in early trading, but head for weekly gains

DAMIAN J. TROISE | Associated Press


NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks wobbled between small gains and losses in early trading Friday as investors focused on another round of mostly solid corporate earnings.

Trading has been more subdued and cautious on Wall Street, following China's report Thursday of a surge in cases of a new virus that could crimp global economic growth. Solid gains from earlier in the week are still holding and keeping the major indexes on track for weekly gains.

Technology companies gained ground in the early going. Chipmaker Nvidia was a standout with a 6.6% jump after it handily beat analysts’ profit forecasts for the fourth quarter.

Real estate and industrial stocks also rose. Online travel company Expedia surged 10.4% and Sharpie marker maker Newell Brands rose 5.6% on solid earnings.

Banks fell as bond yields slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.57% from 1.61% late Thursday.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was essentially flat as of 10:17 a.m. Fort Wayne time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 35 points, or 0.1%, to 29,387. The Nasdaq rose 2 points. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 0.1%. European and Asian markets were mixed.

WEEKLY RECAP: A strong first half of the week is giving way to a muted finish as investors grow more cautious following updates on the new coronavirus outbreak. The S&P 500 is on track for a weekly gain of 1.4%, while the Nasdaq is aiming for a 2.1% gain. Both set records earlier in the week.

EARNINGS UPDATE: More than three quarters of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings and the results so far show solid growth. Companies are expected to report overall profit growth of just less than 1% when all the reports are in, according to estimates from FactSet.

There are still several big companies that have yet to report results and are on deck for next week. Walmart will release its report on Tuesday. Campbell Soup will report results on Thursday and Deere will report on Feb. 21.

WEEK AHEAD: Investors are heading into a shortened week that is light on economic reports. Stock and bond markets are closed on Monday for the Presidents’ Day holiday. On Wednesday, the government will issue its report on producer prices, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers. Also, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its January meeting.

Wall Street will also get some updates on the health of the housing industry. The government will release data on housing starts on Wednesday and the National Association of Realtors will release January home sales data on Friday.

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