The stock market drifted mostly higher Friday afternoon, as investors weighed a mixed picture of the U.S. economy against better-than-expected company earnings. Trading was light ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose three points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,000 as of 3:21 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,066. The Nasdaq composite climbed 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,572. U.S. financial markets will be closed Monday for Labor Day.
HOLIDAY MODE: “We’re seeing a listless, pre-holiday market,” said Drew Wilson, an investment analyst at Fenimore Asset Management. “At the margin, there’s just not enough to move the market.”
FEELING BETTER: The University of Michigan’s latest index of consumer sentiment rose to 82.5 in July from 81.8 in the previous month. The increase reflects greater optimism about jobs and rising incomes, largely among higher-income groups.
BUT LESS SPENDING: Consumer spending edged down 0.1 percent in July, the first monthly decline since January, the Commerce Department reported. Fewer auto sales accounted for most of the weakness. At the same time, income growth slowed to 0.2 percent in July, the weakest showing in seven months.
BROAD RISE: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index rose, led by telecommunications. Industrial stocks fell the most.
ENERGY: The price of oil rose for the fourth day in a row on concerns about the escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the biggest oil exporter outside of OPEC. Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.41 to close at $95.96 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 73 cents to close at $103.19. Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to close at $2.783 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2.1 cents to close at $4.065 per 1,000 cubic feet.
GO-GO AVAGO: Avago Technologies, which makes semiconductors used in smartphones, computer servers and other devices surged $6, or 8 percent, to $82.36. The big gain came after the company reported earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. Avago rose the most in the S&P 500 index and touched an all-time high of $84.80.
BRIGHTER OUTLOOK: Splunk soared 19 percent after the data management software developer reported earnings late Thursday that beat expectations. It also raised its full-year profit and revenue estimates. The stock gained $8.73 to $54.02.
CHARGED UP: Tesla Motors and a state-owned Chinese phone carrier announced plans Friday to build 400 charging stations for electric cars in a bid to promote adoption of the technology in China. Tesla increased $6.13, or 2.3 percent, to $269.99.
NOT A DOG: The S&P 500 was on track to carve out the biggest monthly gain since February and the best August since 2000.
“It’s been a good August,” said Linda Duessel, senior equity market strategist at Federated Investors. “I imagine it’s the end of the month and people closing their books are saying `I better show I’m invested, we had a brand-new high this week,'” she said. The S&P 500 closed above 2,000 for the first time on Tuesday.
SEPTEMBER LOOMS: September is widely considered the stock market’s worst month. Since World War II, the S&P 500 index has ended the month with a loss half of the time. Recently, however, September has been good to investors. The S&P 500 has turned in a September loss just twice in the last decade: in the depths of the financial crisis in 2008 and following a fight over raising the government’s borrowing limit in 2011.
BONDS AND METALS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.35 percent from 2.34 late Thursday. In metals trading, gold slipped $3 to $1,287.40 an ounce, silver fell 14 cents to $19.40 an ounce and rose a penny to $3.14 a pound.
AP Business Writers Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Matthew Craft in New York contributed to this report.