Stocks were little changed on Friday, but still headed for solid weekly gains, as Wall Street digested the latest batch of consumer data and earnings.
The major averages hit their session lows around midday. They later recovered after CNBC’s Kayla Tausche reported the White House is considering tax incentives for people in the U.S. to buy stocks.
Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities, said “nobody wants to step up and buy heading into a long weekend.” The U.S. stock market will be closed on Monday due to the President’s Day holiday.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 10, 2020 in New York City.
Kena Betancur | Getty Images
Despite Friday’s decline, stocks were on pace to post back-to-back gains for the week. The S&P 500 and Dow are up 1.3% and 0.8%, respectively, this week. The Nasdaq has risen nearly 2%. Those advances come even as investors grapple with a rising number of reported coronavirus cases.
China’s National Health Commission on Friday reported an additional 121 deaths nationwide, with 5,090 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The flu-like virus was found to have killed a total of 1,380 people in mainland China as of Thursday evening after the health commission said it had removed 108 deaths from the total figure due to a double-count in Hubei province — the epicenter of the global coronavirus outbreak.
It is the second day in a row that the province’s data changes have caused significant changes to a nationwide figure, fueling doubts many have about their accuracy.
Weak economic data offsets strong earnings
Core retail sales, which exclude autos, gas, building materials and food services, were unchanged last month, the Commerce Department said. Friday The department added clothing-store sales had their biggest one-month decline since 2009.
The data suggests “consumer spending is still struggling for momentum,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, in a note. “That may also have been affected by the unseasonable weather, but there were also declines in electronics and health & personal care, while online sales continued their relatively subdued run.”
The data outweighed the release of strong corporate earnings releases from companies such as Nvidia and Expedia.
Nvidia shares rose more than 7% after its quarterly results beat analyst expectations. Expedia got an 11.7% boost from its earnings while Roku gained 0.2%. Newell Brands, meanwhile, climbed 4.7%.
More than 77% of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings thus far, with roughly 72% of them beating analyst expectations, FactSet data shows.
“We’re looking now at a very modest positive quarter for the fourth quarter,” said Jon Adams, investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management. “If we do see earnings growth pick up here, which we think it will throughout 2020, that will bode well for U.S. equities.”
—CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report.