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Stocks generally end higher but record yet another losing week

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A late afternoon rally in tech stocks helped erase most of the markets’ losses on Friday, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the major indexes from posting their second consecutive week of losses.

The Standard & Poors 500 gained 0.1% in the final minutes of trading after falling about 1% earlier in the day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rallied from a 0.8% decline to post a 0.6% gain. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.6%.

The rally in tech stocks, along with gains in energy and other sectors, helped offset declines in banks and elsewhere in the market at a time when investors were mostly focused on a mix of reports on corporate profits and discouraging retail sales data.

The mixed end capped a choppy week of trading on Wall Street that compounded January’s market slump. The benchmark S&P 500, which climbed 26.9% in 2021, is now about 2.8% below the all-time high it hit on Jan. 3.

Stocks have clearly gotten off to a slow start since the start of the year, but maybe for good reason, said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management. There may be some profit taking and some time to digest after these strong returns, especially as we transition to a new regime of higher inflation and a less accommodative Federal Reserve.

The S&P 500 rose 3.82 points to 4,662.85, while the Nasdaq advanced 86.94 points to 14,893.75. The Dow fell 201.81 points to 35,911.81.

Small company stocks also rebounded from an early plunge. The Russell 2000 Index rose 3.02 points, or 0.1%, to 2,162.46.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that retail sales fell 1.9% in December after Americans cut spending amid product shortages, rising prices and the appearance of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

That’s a lot of bad things happening in a short time during one of the strongest retail months of the year, said Robert Cantwell, portfolio manager at Upholdings.

A wide variety of retailers and other businesses that rely on direct consumer spending fell after the weak retail sales report. Home Depot fell 3.9% and Whirlpool 4.3%.

The disappointing retail trade report is the latest in a series of economic reports this week that have raised concerns about inflation and its effects on businesses and consumer spending.

The Department of Labor announced on Wednesday that consumer inflation jumped at the fastest pace in nearly 40 years last month, a 7% increase from a year earlier that is boosting household spending and eating away at wage gains. The government agency also reported on Thursday that wholesale prices have jumped by a record 9.7% for all of 2021.

Rising prices encourage companies to passing more costs on to consumers. Consumers cut spending in department stores, restaurants and online due to rising prices and supply shortages.

Companies are also feeling inflation. Paint maker Sherwin-Williams fell 2.8% after reporting disappointing fourth-quarter results due to raw material costs and supply chain issues. Boston Beer, which makes Samuel Adams beer, fell 8.1% after it cut its profit forecast due to supply chain issues.

Concerns about the persistent rise in inflation are also prompting Federal Reserve reduce its bond purchases and consider raising interest rates sooner and more often than Wall Street expected less than a year ago.

We are convinced that the context is still favorable for [stock] prices, but were seeing a reset in valuations, and that’s a function of interest rates trending a bit higher, Sandven said.

Bond yields rose. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.79% from 1.70% on Thursday evening.

JPMorgan Chase fell 6.2% for the biggest drop in the S&P 500 after announcing that its profit fell 14% in the last quarter from a year earlier as its trading activities slumped. Citigroup fell 1.3% after reporting its latest results.

The late wave of tech stock buying helped temper market losses. Microsoft rose 1.8%.

The price of US crude oil rose 2.1% and helped energy stocks rise. Marathon Oil rose 4.9%.

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