Thursday, October 21, 2021

US markets flat as strong banks and energy boosts; Apple falls

Stocks started the week on mixed footing on Friday, as sharp gains in banking and energy stocks were more than offset by a big drop in the Nasdaq.

The S&P 500, which had been up a fifth of a point when trading began, ended the day little changed, edging down just a fraction, while the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq Composite were a touch higher.

The S&P energy index was up 2%, its biggest gain in more than three months and followed a 3.2% rise on Thursday in the price of oil. Oil prices rose to a six-month high after Opec reported a surprise surplus of supply, fuelled by record-high production in the United States. US crude jumped 3.2% to $75.17 a barrel.

In the banking sector, Wells Fargo shares added 2.3% following a deal to resolve a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission into mortgage securities sold by the company before the financial crisis.

Health insurer UnitedHealth rose 3.4% after it said it would buy Amil, Brazil’s second-largest healthcare company, for $4.9bn in cash. Amil jumped 38%.

Industrial stocks also helped shares, helped by a 0.7% rise in the Dow Jones transportation average, which has underperformed the overall market for most of the year.

However, tech was one of the market’s weakest spots, with Apple, which reported results last week, down 0.5% on the day. The S&P 500 was down 0.05%.

Economic data was mostly disappointing. A report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank showed the business outlook index deteriorated to -3.7 in May from -2.8 in April. Readings below zero indicate contraction in business activity.

A number of companies did report better-than-expected earnings.

Tribune Media added 5.6% after the media company reported quarterly revenue above analysts’ expectations.

In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top regional shares closed flat at 1,456.89 points. Germany’s DAX fell 0.19% to 10,893.31 points and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.01% to 4,203.59 points.

The euro was slightly weaker against the dollar at $1.1219 after data showed a fall in German inflation in May. Data from the European Union’s statistics office showed the annual inflation rate in Europe’s largest economy was at 1.6% year-on-year, down from 1.8% in April.

Commodities prices were also mixed. Gold prices edged down to $1,227.70 an ounce as the dollar edged higher. Copper closed at $6,070.00 per tonne, not far from a seven-month high.

Latest article