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The close: S&P 500 ends worst week since start of June

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, September 20, 2012.

BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

Stocks finished the week on a lacklustre note after an upbeat reading on U.S. consumer confidence and a double-digit jump in quarterly earnings from JPMorgan Chase & Co. failed to inspire investors.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,328.85, up 2.46 points or zero per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1428.59, down 4.25 points or 0.3 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,202.04, down 31.91 points or 0.3 per cent.

For the week – which marked the start of the third-quarter reporting season – the S&P 500 fell 2.2 per cent, marking its worst weekly performance since the start of June.

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The backdrop was relatively upbeat. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for October rose to 83.1 from 78.1 in September, topping expectations and marking a five-year high.

U.S. producer prices rose 1.1 per cent in September, above expectations for a gain of just 0.8 per cent and raising some concerns about inflation. However, most of the increase was due to energy prices. After stripping out food and energy items, prices were unchanged last month.

In corporate earnings, JPMorgan reported a 34 per cent rise in its quarterly earnings, helped in part by a 36 per cent gain in mortgage lending revenue. Indeed, the bank's chief executive said he believed that the U.S. housing market had turned a corner. However, the shares fell 1.1 per cent.

Homebuilding stocks also failed to respond in a positive way. Toll Brothers fell 1.2 per cent and PulteGroup Inc. fell 0.5 per cent.

Wells Fargo & Co. reported a 22 per cent gain in its quarterly earnings. However, revenue growth was shy of expectations, and the shares fell 3.5 per cent.

Commodity prices struggled. Gold fell to $1,759.70 (U.S.) an ounce, down $10.90. Crude oil fell to $91.86 a barrel, down 21 cents. Among Canadian commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. rose less than 0.1 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1.9 per cent.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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