U.S. stocks on Friday finished nearly unchanged, giving Wall Street its first weekly drop for September. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 17.46 points, or 0.1%, to 13,579.47, leaving it down 0.1% from the week-ago close.
Gold futures slumped to a six-week low Friday, as concerns about Europe pushed investors to the U.S. dollar at the expense of precious metals. The most-actively traded contract, for December delivery, fell $20.70, or 1.2%, to settle at $1,724 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest price since Sept. 6.
Down 0.4% on the week, the S&P 500 index (SPX) fell a fraction to 1,460.15, with materials the laggard and telecommunications leading gains among its 10 sectors. Off 0.1% from last Friday's close, the Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) climbed 4 points, or 0.1%, to 3,179.96, bolstered by shares of Apple, up 0.2%.
For every three stocks on the decline four rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where 1.8 billion shares traded. Composite volume surpassed 4.7 billion.
Some major companies are expected to report their latest quarterly results this week, including Walgreen Co. (WAG), Nike Inc. (NKE) and Micron Technology Inc. (MU). Also, potentially the second-biggest initial public offering of the year is slated for this week, along with a handful of reports related to consumer confidence.
EUROPEAN STOCKS, BONDS
European stock markets moved higher Friday, boosted by banks and drug makers, amid speculation Spain may be setting the stage for a bailout request.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index added 0.5% to close at 275.78. On the week, the index lost 0.1%, as investors banked some profits after the benchmark jumped to a 15-month high last week on the back of easing measures in the U.S. Wilkinson from Royal London Asset Management said Spain probably won't be weighed by strict conditions in a potential bailout--an outcome that has stirred concerns that the country may not accept outside aid.
ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS
Asian stock markets climbed on Friday, as recent central bank moves continued to help sentiment, while Sharp shot up in Tokyo on news of a possible capital alliance with Intel.
The Hang Seng Index gained 0.7% to 20725.21 as telecom stocks and commodities outperformed. The Shanghai Composite Index managed to add 0.1% to 2026.69, after hitting a fresh 43-month low at 2018.26 in the morning, as investors bought coal miners and electricity stocks.
The Shanghai Composite fell 4.6% this week, the biggest weekly loss since late October, as local sentiment was damaged by the ongoing island dispute between China and Japan, poor manufacturing data, and disappointment over the scale of the government's recently announced infrastructure projects.
It was more of a mixed week for other regional markets: Japan's Nikkei lost 0.5%, the S&P ASX 200 was up 0.4%, and the Hang Seng Index edged 0.5% higher.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was 0.3% higher on Friday to 9110.00. Troubled electronics company Sharp shot up 5% in Tokyo after a report in the Mainichi Shimbun said that the company is in talks with U.S. chipmaker Intel on a capital alliance, boosting confidence over the company's finances as its talks with Hon Hai Precision Industry stall.
Sharp has denied that it is in talks with Intel over a capital tie-up. The island dispute between China and Japan continued to be felt among select stocks.
Japan Airlines slipped 4.3%, falling below its listing price on its third session since its trading debut, after airline said that 6,000 passengers had flights between Japan and China.
China Eastern Airlines lost 1.6% on news that it will postpone the launch of a new route between Shanghai and Sendai due to low demand amid the growing tension between the two countries. South Korea's Kospi Composite added 0.6% to 2002.37, helped by index heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which rose 1.4%, recovering from its recent declines.
Base metals closed a touch higher on the London Metal Exchange Friday, aided by a firmer euro and a boost in sentiment toward the European region which lifted wider markets.
At the close of open-outcry trading, LME three-month copper was 0.2% higher on the day at $8,281.5. U.S. crude-oil futures settled higher Friday, rebounding from four straight losing sessions as the dollar weakened against the euro and broader markets rose.
The gains came as the front-month contract switched to November futures. Light, sweet crude oil for November delivery rose 47 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $92.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude oil on the ICE futures exchange for November delivery rose $1.50 to $111.53 a barrel. Gold futures ended Friday at their highest level in more than six months on a stronger euro and speculation that Spain may be setting the stage for a sovereign-debt bailout request.
The most-actively traded contract, for December delivery, settled up $7.80, or 0.4%, at $1,778 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. This was the highest settlement price since Feb. 28, when gold futures finished at $1,788.40 a troy ounce. COMPILED FROM MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD.
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