NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street closed flat on Friday as inflation concerns and weakening technology and energy stocks were offset by a surge in the consumer discretionary sector led by Amazon.
The S & P 500 and the Nasdaq made small gains, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid into negative territory by the end of the session.
All three major US indices ended at the end of a choppy session for a week, ending the two-week streak of profit.
"There is a plethora of counterflows that are happening on the market right now, and as a result, you get trading days like these when the market can not decide what they want to do," said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.
US economic growth slowed in the first quarter as consumer spending saw its weakest growth in nearly five years, according to the Department of Commerce. However, rising wages and lower tax rates suggest that the setback could be temporary.
The US Treasury yield curve flattened as the growth data re-bet that the Federal Reserve would continue to raise policy rates in the US to keep inflation in check.
Wages rose at their fastest pace in 1
With companies warning of higher marginal costs, markets have fluctuated as investors focus on forecasts in the light of the strongest earnings growth in the past seven years.
"They have investors who are dealing with a new environment of volatility and how to handle it," Carlson said. "That means a market as we now have it, manic-depressive, passive-aggressive."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 11.15 points or 0.05 percent to 24,311.19, the S & P 500 gained 2.97 points or 0.11 percent, to 2.6969.91 and the Nasdaq Composite 1.12 points or 0.02 percent added to 7,119.80.
More than half of S & P 500 companies have already reported first quarter results, of which 79.4 percent exceeded consensus estimates. According to Thomson Reuters data analysts expect the first quarter earnings growth of 24.6 percent. This is more than a double expectation at the beginning of the year.
Amazon.com led the S & P 500 and Nasdaq and helped them close positive territory as online retailer stocks rose 3.6 percent after a record profit. Brokerage firms have begun to value the company over a trillion dollars.
Microsoft gained 1.7 percent as its technology lead exceeded first-quarter expectations and expanded cloud computing services.
After a loss of profits Exxon Mobil burdened the S & P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average with a minus of 3.8 percent.
Sprint jumped 8.3 percent after a report from Reuters that the mobile operator and competitor T-Mobile set the conditions for a merger.
Seven of the eleven large S & P sectors were higher, with defensive telecom and real estate sectors showing the largest percentage growth, at 1.75 percent and 1.32 percent, respectively.
The decline of Exxon lowered the Energy Index by 1.2 percent, the largest percentage loser.
Progressive problems were on the NYSE with a ratio of 1.42 to 1 in the majority; on the Nasdaq favored a ratio of 1.07 to 1 pioneer.
The S & P 500 recorded 17 new 52-week highs and seven new lows; The Nasdaq Composite recorded 60 new highs and 57 new lows.
The volume of US stock exchanges was 6.13 billion shares, compared to the average of 6.62 billion over the last 20 trading days.
Report by Stephen Culp; Arrangement by Dan Grebler and James Dalgleish