Wall Street shook off a weak start and ended a wobbly day mostly higher.
The S&P 500 rose 0.2% Friday, bringing its weekly gain to 3.2% while crude oil prices fell after notching six straight gains, which weighed on energy stocks.
Stock indexes turned mixed on Friday afternoon, recouping much of their losses from earlier in the day, as the market closed out a choppy week ahead of a long holiday weekend in the U.S.
The S&P 500 was up 0.1% after having been down 0.5%. The index was still on track for a weekly gain. Strength in technology and communications stocks helped reverse the market’s early slide. Energy stocks fell the most as crude oil prices closed lower after six straight gains. Bond yields were mixed.
After mounting a strong rebound in April, stocks have bounced around this week as traders look for signs pointing to the market’s direction.
“We’re in a bit of a hold right now looking for the next catalyst,” said Brian Levitt, global market strategist at Invesco. “There’s still an awful lot of uncertainty we have to work though.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 54 points, or 0.2%, to 24,419. The Nasdaq composite was up 0.4%. Small company stocks, the biggest gainers so far this month, also recovered from an early slide, sending the Russell 2000 up 0.3%. U.S. stock markets will be closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.
The choppy trading on Wall Street followed a downbeat day in Asia. Hong Kong’s main index dropped 5.6% after China made more moves to limit political opposition in the former British colony. Beijing also abandoned its longstanding practice of setting economic growth targets. European markets shook off some early weakness and ended mixed.
The S&P 500 was on track to end the week with a big enough gain to make up for all of its losses from last week, thanks largely to a strong rally on Monday. The index is still down about 13% from its all-time high in February.
Fresh hopes for a U.S. economic recovery in the second half of the year and optimism about a potential vaccine for COVID-19 helped spur stocks higher for much of the week. Investors are betting that the economy and corporate profits will begin to recover from the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. and countries around the world slowly open up again.
Traders remain wary, however, that the reopening of businesses could lead to another surge in infections, potentially hobbling efforts to get the nation’s battered economy growing again.
Oil prices fell, snapping a six-day winning streak. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 2% to settle at $33.25 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 2.6% to settle at $35.13 a barrel.
Crude oil started the year at about $60 a barrel, but plummeted as demand sank due to widespread travel and business shutdowns related to the coronavirus. The price has risen this month as oil producing nations cut back on output and the gradual reopening of economies worldwide.