Wall Street ended lower on Friday to cap a week during which indices fell four days out of five, as thin economic data left most of the focus on an emerging picture of a September date for the commencement of the Fed’s drawing down of $85 billion per month in bond purchases.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed the week on a loss of 0.36 percent to 1,691.41 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.47 percent lower at 15,425.51, and the NASDAQ was 0.25 percent off at 3,660.11.
Worries over comments made by Dallas Federal Reserve Chairman Richard Fisher late on Thursday to the effect that cutbacks to the Fed’s stimulus program would likely begin next month seemed to confirm an increasing sense of unanimity among top central bank officials regarding the future of economic stimulus, as the yield on 10-year Treasury notes dropped 0.27 percent to $2.58.
On a day of relatively light trading, tech stocks weighed on the S&P 500, with a number of companies coming up short including Juniper Networks (JNPR) , AT&T Inc. ($ATT), and Lam Research Company (LRCX) . J.C. Penney (JCP) ended the day nearly 6 percent lower under pressure from the ongoing kerfuffle related to Bill Ackman’s attempts to oust its former/current CEO Myron Ullman.
Basic materials stocks constituted a bright spot for the benchmark index, with industrial metals and minerals companies making up the bulk of the day’s best performers. Cliffs natural Resources (CLF) was up over 10 percent, Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) was up nearly 8 percent, and United States Steel Corp. (X) was in tow, up over 4 percent.
Aluminum producer Alcoa ($AA) was the Dow’s only real success story of the day, up nearly 4 percent by the closing bell on a day that saw 25 of the index’s 30 components in the red.
On the NASDAQ, NPS Pharmaceuticals (NPSP) ended the day on a gain of 25 percent after the impact of a worse than expected quarterly earnings report was overridden by promising news about upcoming drug treatments. Otherwise, tech shares made for significant downward pressure on the exchange, as Apple (AAPL) dropped 1.4 percent, followed by NVIDIA (NVDA) , Microsoft (MSFT) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) .