Stocks end modestly higher
NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market shook off a bumpy start and ended modestly higher Friday, led by gains in consumer products companies like Monster Beverage and Procter & Gamble. Health care companies also rose. Energy companies slipped along with the price of oil.
Trading has been muted ahead of the Group of Seven summit in Quebec, which began Friday. The meeting is expected to be tense as other leaders confront President Donald Trump over his protectionist trade policies.
Consumer products companies, which have been out of favor the last few months, rose for the second day in a row. Overall, major indexes were mostly higher after posting small losses the day before.
The G-7 meeting was set to be unusually contentious, as leaders of France and Canada in particular have expressed in tough terms their disapproval of the tariffs President Donald Trump recently imposed on steel and aluminum imports. Trump is expected to leave the summit on Saturday before it officially concludes as he heads to Singapore ahead of his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trade tensions have been rattling markets for the last three months, and the G-7 summit isn’t expected to deliver much relief. That said, there could be a silver lining to the ongoing talks between the U.S. and its trading partners over the highly unpopular U.S. tariffs, according to Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
“The end result probably is going to be lower tariffs across the board,” Wren said. Wren said that ultimately a large number of older tariffs that are currently levied on U.S. imports and exports could be reduced or eliminated.
The S&P 500 index added 8.66 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,779.03. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75.12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 25,316.53. The Nasdaq composite gained 10.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,645.51.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 4.72 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,672.49. Smaller and more U.S.-focused stocks have fared better than the rest of the market in recent months as investors worry that trade frictions could impact large multinational companies. The Russell is on a six-week winning streak.
Wall Street appeared to get ever so slightly less worried about the trade situation this week. The Dow has taken a bigger hit from the trade disputes than other U.S. indexes, but this week was its best in three months. The Nasdaq and Russell 2000 reached all-time highs on Wednesday.
Among consumer products makers, Monster Beverage climbed 5 percent to $55.48 after its annual shareholder meeting. Stifel analyst Mark Astrachan said the company’s sales growth is solid. He said the company plans to raise its U.S. prices later this year in response to higher aluminum prices.
Tide maker Procter & Gamble gained 1.9 percent to $77.18. Cigarette maker Philip Morris International rose 2.6 percent to $79.42 after it raised its quarterly dividend, while Reuters said the company plans to start selling its tobacco-heating Iqos device in India.
U.S. crude slid 0.3 percent to $65.74 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 0.6 percent to $76.82 per barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline stayed at $2.12 a gallon. Heating oil shed 0.7 percent to $2.16 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.4 percent to $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Energy companies followed suit. Halliburton slumped 1.7 percent to $48.10 and Noble Energy lost 2.3 percent to $34.06.
Wall Street will be focused on central banks even more than usual next week as the European Central Bank and Federal Reserve both hold major meetings. Wren, of Wells Fargo, said the ECB will probably start to pare back its economic stimulus even though the European economy slowed in the first quarter.
Investors are nearly certain the Fed will raise interest rates for the second time this year, out of three the Fed says it’s planning. If the Fed hints it’s considering a fourth increase later in the year, it might jolt the stock market.
“Any more than three hikes this year is a headwind for equities,” said Wren.
Online clothing retailer Stitch Fix jumped 26.5 percent to $24.88 after it beat Wall Street’s expectations in its fiscal third quarter.
Toymaker Funko continued to rally, climbing 6.1 percent to $11.99. The company went public in November and its stock fell 50 percent through the end of 2017. It’s up 80 percent this year and virtually back to its IPO price of $12.