By Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga
Wall Street capped a choppy day of trading Friday with an uneven finish for the major stock indexes, as losses for several large technology companies weighed on the market.
The S&P 500 was little changed a day after it set an all-time high, but the 0.1% slip ended its seven-day winning streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average notched a 0.2% gain, good enough to eclipse the blue-chip index's previous record high set on Aug. 16. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 0.8%.
Some 65% of stocks in the S&P 500 closed higher, led mainly by financial and health care companies, but losses in communication and technology companies, which have an outsized weight on the benchmark index, held the S&P 500 down.
Despite the downbeat finish to the week, the three major indexes posted their third weekly gain in a row. Investors have been reviewing corporate earnings over the last two weeks and the mostly solid results have helped stocks generally grind higher.
Remarks Friday by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell appeared to put traders in a selling mood. Powell said that the supply chain issues that have caused disruptions across the U.S. economy since this summer have gotten worse and will likely keep inflation elevated well into next year.
“This idea that inflation is transitory seems to be going out the window as you see inflation expectations start to rise,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at All Star Charts.
The S&P 500 slipped 4.88 points to 4,544.90. The Dow gained 73.94 points to 35,677.02. The Nasdaq slid 125.50 points, or 0.8%, to 15,090.20.
Small company stocks also lost ground. The Russell 2000 index fell 4.92 points, or 0.2%, to 2,291.27.
Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.64% from 1.67%.
With corporate earnings reporting season in full swing, investors have been looking for clues as to how companies are navigating supply chain problems and rising costs for materials, transportation and other goods and services. Many companies have warned that the supply chain issues and overall higher costs will hurt operations.
Wall Street is monitoring what the Fed will do to tackle inflation. The central bank is widely expected to announce next month plans to begin reducing monthly bond purchases that the Fed began in the early days of the pandemic in a bid to lower longer-term interest rates and encourage borrowing and spending.
Powell said Friday that the Fed is not yet prepared to lift its benchmark interest rate from its current level near zero, though he suggested that the economy may be ready for a rate hike next year.
“If the Fed is going have to be more aggressive with raising rates or more aggressive with moving toward tapering to raising rates, then what's the impact, not on individual companies, but on whole sectors and the economy overall?” asked Delwiche.
Technology and communication companies, which tend to be among the most expensive stocks and have benefited from low interest rates, weighed most on the market Friday. Chipmaker Intel slumped 11.7% for the biggest decline in the index after reporting disappointing revenue.
Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, plunged 26.6% after reporting weak revenue and disclosing that its ad sales are being hurt by a privacy crackdown that rolled out on Apple’s iPhones earlier this year. The news weighed down several other social media companies. Facebook fell 5.1% and Twitter fell 4.8%. Google's parent, Alphabet, fell 3%.
Banks and other financial companies made solid gains. American Express jumped 5.4% after reporting solid third-quarter financial results. The company noted an increase in consumer spending and travel. Bank of America rose 1.6%.
Solid earnings helped several other companies gain ground. Hot Wheels and Barbie maker Mattel rose 0.6% after reporting solid financial results.
The company planning to make President Donald Trump’s new media venture a publicly traded company soared for a second straight day. Digital World Acquisition nearly tripled in the first minute of trading, then wound up with ending the day at $94.20, up 107%. It traded as high as $175.
The stock more than quadrupled the day before, surging to $45.50 from $9.96, after the company said it would merge with Trump Media & Technology Group, which aims to challenge Facebook, Twitter and even Disney’s streaming video service. Experts are split on the company’s prospects, but some investors are betting on it to be popular.
That’s despite the deal’s announcement being unusual in how few details it offered for investors.
European markets ended mostly higher. Markets in Asia closed mixed. State media in China said China Evergrande Group made an overdue bond payment on Friday. The property developer’s struggle to reduce its 2 trillion yuan ($310 billion) of debt to comply with tighter official curbs on borrowing has prompted fears a default might trigger a financial crisis.
Updated on October 22, 2021, at 5:20 p.m. ET.