Stocks Mostly Mixed, but Dow Finishes Week Higher

Proctor & Gamble surged after reporting better-than-expected earnings. The company said it got a boost from strong beauty-product sales. A report from the National Association of Realtors showed on Friday that U.S. home sales fell in September by the most in over two years as the housing market continued to struggle despite strength across the broader economy.
James Hyerczyk
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The major U.S. stock indexes finished mixed on Friday with the lone bright spot the Dow Jones industrial Average. The Dow was boosted by a solid performance from Procter & Gamble, which posted its biggest one-day gain in nearly 10 years, on the back of strong earnings. The Dow also posted its first gain in four weeks.

In the cash market, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 2767.78, down 1.00 or -0.04%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 25444.34, up 64.89 or +0.26% and the tech-based NASDAQ Composite closed at 7448.89, down 36.25 or -0.48%.

It wasn’t one particular sector supporting the Dow and limiting losses in the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ Composite, but rather a few individual stocks.

Proctor & Gamble surged after reporting better-than-expected earnings. The company said it got a boost from strong beauty-product sales. The broad market was also supported by Honeywell and Schlumberger which reported better-than-forecast profits before the opening on Friday. American Express, PayPal and Skechers all posted earnings that topped analyst expectations after the close on Thursday.

The nearly flat performance by the S&P 500 Index was generated by weak performances in the health care and consumer discretionary sectors. However, the damage was reduced by a 2.3 percent gain in consumer staples. The NASDAQ was pulled lower by weakness in Facebook, Amazon and Netflix.

Solid earnings data carried the indexes this week with investors shaking off a few potentially volatile situations related to rising interest rates, a hawkish U.S. Federal Reserve and a plunge in Chinese equities. Also helping to support prices was the return of value investors.

According to FactSet, with more than 15 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported, 83 percent have topped analyst expectations.

U.S. Economic Data

A report from the National Association of Realtors showed on Friday that U.S. home sales fell in September by the most in over two years as the housing market continued to struggle despite strength across the broader economy. The NAR reports showed that existing home sales dropped 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million units last month. Economists were looking for existing home sales to fall to 5.30 million from a previously reported 5.34 million.

Home sales have now fallen for six straight months. The overall decline may be related to rising rates, however, rising building costs as well as land and labor shortages, may also be contributing to slow demand.

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