U.S. Stocks Shrug Off Downbeat Retail Report

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Stocks in the U.S. closed lower Friday after the release of disappointing monthly retail-sales figures. A cutback in purchases by Americans saw July retail-sales flat, though economists were expecting a growth of 0.4%.

Investors tried to limit their exposure to the equity markets following the downbeat retail report. But stocks still managed to close higher for the week. Here is how the three major indexes fared on Friday and for the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI) slipped 0.2% to 18576.47, but was up 0.2% for the week ending Friday. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) declined 0.1% to 2184.05, but was up 0.1% for the week. The NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) bucked the trend as it rose 0.1% and managed to rise 0.2% for the week.

The mixed performance by the Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ on Friday came just a day after all the three indexes closed at records on the same day for the first time since December 31, 1999.

Fed rate review expectations

The downbeat retail-sales data released by the Commerce Department on Friday further dented hopes of an accelerated path to an interest rate review by the Federal Reserve. The central bank hinted at the end of its last policy meeting that the rate review pathway would be decided by the quality of economic data being reported between now and its next policy meeting in September.

Though labor data impressed as the U.S. added more jobs than economists expected, productivity and now retail-sales figures have tended to show that the economy may not be ready for higher lending rates. The dollar weakened against a basket of global rivals on Friday because of lowered expectations of a rate hike.

“Traditionally when interest rates are this low and central banks are this accommodative, it’s been a positive for risk assets,” noted Thomas Wilson of Brinker Capital.

Oil rebound

A rebound in oil and the iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return (NYSEARCA:OIL) appears to offer investors some hope. U.S. oil prices rose 2.3% to $44.49 a barrel on Friday and were up 6.4% for the week. Comments by Saudi Arabia that it would cooperate with other producers to try and stabilize oil prices resonated well with traders of the commodity. Before Saudi Arabia made the remark, it had been reported that OPEC members were planning an informal meeting to possibly discuss how to freeze production.

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