Stocks In ‘Digestion Mode’; Oil, Gold Down 2%

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Investors remain wary of jumping into stocks Friday, despite a pair of positive economic reports.

The real action was in commodities, with gold and oil dropping nearly 2%.

Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros spooked gold bugs, after it was revealed that his fund cut its stake in a major gold ETF, SPDR Gold Trust, at the end of last year. Commodities moved lower across the board on Friday.

Stocks by contrast didn’t do much Friday, despite reports on consumer confidence and manufacturing activity that topped forecasts.

“We’re in digestion mode,” said Sal Catrini, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “We’ve had a really nice run.”

The Dow is still within 1.6% of its all-time high, hit in October 2007, and the S&P 500 is about 4% shy of its record high, also set in October 2007. All three indexes are up between 5% and 7% for the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq moved on other side of the breakeven line.

The New York Federal Reserve report showed that manufacturing in the state picked up precipitously last month. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan’s February report on consumer sentiment came in at 76.3, above a 74.8 forecast.

On the downside, the Census Bureau reported that industrial production dipped 0.1% in January. Analysts had expected a modes gain.

On the corporate front, investors had more earnings results to take in Friday.

About 65% of the companies in the S&P 500 that had reported fourth-quarter earnings as of Thursday topped analysts’ expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ. But the bulk of companies that have issued guidance for the first quarter have had negative outlooks.

Burger King reported earnings that beat expectations. Shares rose nearly 3%. Meanwhile, Kraft Foods posted weaker-than-expected revenue, but shares moved slightly higher.

Shares of nutritional supplements company Herbalife surged more than 12% after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a 13% stake in the firm on Thursday.

Carnival shares slid as the company’s Triumph cruise ship docked and passengers were finally able to leave, just days after a fire and power outage left the ship and 3,000 passengers stranded at sea.

Shares of Wal-Mart dropped nearly 2%, after a research firm said that sales for the last four weeks look significantly softer at the big box retailer.

U.S. stocks finished mostly flat Thursday as concerns about the European economy weighed on sentiment.

European markets and Asian markets ended mixed.

The dollar was higher versus the euro and the Japanese yen, but dipped versus the British pound.

The price on the 10-year Treasury note declined, sending the yield up to 2.02% from 1.95% late Monday.

By Maureen Farrell

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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