S&P ekes out second record close after lackluster data

By Reuters

May 15, 2015 07:18 PM EDT

U.S. shares ended little changed on Friday, with the S&P 500 edging up to a record high for a second straight session after a ream of weak economic data.

The S&P 500 gained 1.63 points, or 0.08 percent, to end at 2,122.73. That followed a more substantial 1.08 percent jump on Thursday that fueled speculation the benchmark index might trend higher after having oscillated in a range for much of the past three months.

However, weak industrial output and consumer sentiment reports on Friday did little to instill confidence in investors about the economy's growth momentum. The major indices spent most of the day in the red.

"With the markets treading, it's really reflecting what's happening in the general economy," said Warren West, principal at Greentree Brokerage Services in Philadelphia. "The rest of the economy's not breaking out, so how can the market?"

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 20.32 points, or 0.11 percent, to end at 18,272.56. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.50 points, or 0.05 percent, to 5,048.29.

For the week, the Dow closed 0.4 percent higher, the S&P rose 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.9 percent.

On Friday, seven of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors rose, with the utilities index up 1.26 percent.

Bank of America, which dropped 1.02 percent, weighed most on the S&P 500, while Netflix was its strongest positive influence.

Netflix rose 4.50 percent to $613.24 after Bloomberg reported it was in talks to enter China. The stock has soared 80 percent this year.

Industrial output slipped 0.3 percent, weighed by a decline in production by mining companies and utilities. Economists had forecast a rise of 0.1 percent.

U.S. consumer sentiment also fell more than expected in May and was at its lowest since October.

Adding to the negative tone, economists cut their forecasts for U.S. economic growth in the second quarter and the full year, and trimmed expectations for U.S. labor market gains.

"There is some concern about the first-quarter weakness spilling into the current quarter," said Ilya Feygin, managing director at WallachBeth Capital in New York.

Yum Brands rose 4.38 percent after J.P. Morgan upgraded the stock to "overweight" and said the likelihood was increasing that the KFC owner might spin off its China business.

Next week's most closely watched quarterly earnings scorecard will come from the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, which reports early on Tuesday. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will speak about the economic outlook on Friday.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,732 to 1,313, for a 1.32-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,381 issues fell and 1,365 advanced for a 1.01-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

About 5.7 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.2 billion average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 38 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows during Friday's session; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 94 new highs and 35 new lows.

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