Despite wide swings in the NASDAQ throughout the holiday shortened week, the index edged up just 0.2%. Likewise, technology stocks ended with a gain of 0.5%, as did industrial and basic material stocks, but financials moved higher by 0.75%. All other sectors were in the red, led by energy and telecom, negative by 1.5% and 2%, respectively. As indicated by the S&P 500, stocks finished virtually flat for the week on lower-than-average daily volume. The Dow managed a 0.3% advance, thanks again to gains by the two heavily weighted banks in the average. Defense stocks were higher as concerns over North Korea heated up.
While wage growth remained sluggish, the jobs report on Friday was upbeat. The U.S. created a better-than-expected 222,000 new jobs in June as hiring accelerated in the spring, showing that companies are still finding ways to add staff despite a growing shortage of skilled workers. The increase in new jobs was the largest in four months and second biggest of the year. Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in June and the overall economy grew for the 97th consecutive month, according to the latest report from the Institute of Supply Management. Over at the Fed, the minutes of the June FOMC meeting showed a split in the timing of reducing the central bank’s bond portfolio that it amassed during the financial crisis.
Choppiness is beginning to be seen in the stock market, where in the past several weeks additional records have been set, while having to withstand a few brief pullbacks. Investment fundamentals have remained sound, however. As we head into the second-quarter earnings season, more volatility can’t be ruled out. This week we will hear from some of the major banks including aggressive choice JPMorgan Chase, which is expected to have earned $1.60 per shares vs. $1.55 a year ago.
Here is the answer to last week’s trivia question: Alexander’s, Inc., traded on the NYSE, is a real estate investment trust engaged in leasing, managing and developing properties in the New York City metropolitan area. The company was originally founded in 1928 as a: International shipping company, department store chain, amusement park or timberland developer? Answer: Frank from New Jersey got it right. Until its bankruptcy in 1992, Alexanders was a New York area department store chain.