US stocks head for first weekly loss in July

Weak corporate results drag stocks down in afternoon trading on Wall Street; Expedia plunges

Associated Press
Stocks eke out tiny gains on Wall Street
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In this Friday, June 28, 2013, photo, Trader Timothy Nick, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Asian stock markets floundered Friday July 26, 2013 as China pressed ahead with industrial restructuring that is partly to blame for slowing growth in the world's No. 2 economy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Weak results from several U.S. companies helped drag the stock market lower Friday, putting major indexes on course for their first weekly loss this month.

Many traders are also looking ahead to a packed schedule of events next week, including a Federal Reserve meeting and the government's monthly employment report.

"There's just a deluge of market-moving events next week," said Jeffrey Kleintop, the chief market strategist for LPL Financial. "Traders seem to be erring on the side of caution today."

Expedia plunged 25 percent, the worst fall in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. The online travel agency reported earnings late Thursday that badly missed analysts' expectations. Higher costs were the main culprit. Expedia lost $16.62 to $48.38.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down four points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,686, as of 1:45 p.m. Seven of the 10 industry groups in the index fell.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 15,503. The Nasdaq composite index fell one point to 3,605.

Before the market opened, Newmont Mining turned in a quarterly loss, largely a result of slumping prices for copper and gold. Analysts had predicted a slight profit. Newmont's stock fell 39 cents, or 1 percent, to $29.54.

Starbucks posted results late Thursday that beat analysts' estimates. Lower costs for coffee beans and better sales of salads and sandwiches helped. Starbucks jumped $4.71, or 7 percent, to $72.88.

It's nearly halftime in the second-quarter earnings season, and corporate profits are shaping up better than some had feared.

Analysts forecast that earnings for companies in the S&P 500 increased 4.5 percent over the same period in 2012, according to S&P Capital IQ. At the start of July, they predicted earnings would rise 2.8 percent. Nearly seven out of every 10 companies have surpassed Wall Street's profit targets.

The stock market hasn't ended the week with a loss since June 21, when speculation that the Federal Reserve would start easing off its support for the economy rattled financial markets.

Kleintop cautioned against reading too much into the drop on Friday or the weekly loss. The S&P 500 is still up 5 percent for the month and 18 percent for the year.

"It's just one week down after four up," he said. "If the market just goes higher and higher week after week, you would see a major swoon when it runs into some disappointing news."

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.56 percent from 2.57 percent late Thursday.

Long-term interest rates have swung in a wide range since early May as traders attempt to anticipate the Fed's next move. The yield on the 10-year note went as low as 1.63 percent on May 1 and as high as 2.74 percent on July 5.

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