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Wall Street's five-day rally flickers out as earnings near

By Noel Randewich
Wall Street's five-day rally flickers out as earnings near

By Noel Randewich

(Reuters) - Wall Street dipped slightly on Friday, breaking a five-session rally, as energy shares declined and investors looked ahead to earnings season, which kicks off next week with Citigroup, JPMorgan and other big banks.

Underpinned by optimism over China-U.S. trade talks and expectations of a slow pace of interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, the stock market's winning streak through Thursday added 6 percent to the S&P 500 <.SPX> and left it up about 10 percent from the 20-month low it hit around Christmas.

The S&P 500 on Friday ended down just 0.01 percent after recovering from a loss of 0.74 percent earlier in the session.

"We've clawed our way back and now the market is just waiting ahead of the start of earnings season next week," said Donald Selkin, Chief Market Strategist at Newbridge Securities in New York. "We're just drifting."

The S&P energy index <.SPNY> was off 0.63 percent, leading declines among 11 sectors, as oil prices <LCOc1> dropped after nine days of gains. [O/R]

The financial index <.SPSY> climbed 0.17 percent. Citigroup Inc <C.N>, which will report earnings on Monday, rose 0.44 percent after agreeing to give shareholder ValueAct Capital more access to its books and board of directors.

JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N>, which reports on Tuesday, declined 0.48 percent. Some bargain hunters are betting on a stronger 2019 for banks after the S&P 500 bank index <.SPXBK> fell 18.4 percent in 2018.

U.S. stocks took a severe beating in the last quarter of 2018 due to worries over trade, interest rate hikes and a slowdown in global growth.

Analysts expect S&P 500 companies' earnings per share to grow by 6.4 percent this year, compared with 23.5 percent in 2018, when they were supercharged by newly enacted corporate tax cuts, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

General Motors <GM.N> gave a strong earnings forecast for 2019, sending the automaker's shares surging 7.05 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> ended down 0.02 percent at 23,995.95 points, while the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 0.21 percent to 6,971.48.

The S&P 500 <.SPX> ended down 0.38 points at 2,596.26.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 2.5 percent, the Dow added 2.4 percent and the Nasdaq picked up 3.4 percent.

Netflix Inc <NFLX.O> rose 3.98 percent, bringing its gain in 2019 to 26 percent, helped by analysts' optimistic forecasts for subscriber growth ahead of its earnings next week.

Activision Blizzard Inc <ATVI.O> slumped 9.37 percent, the most on the S&P 500, after it transferred publishing rights for its "Destiny" video game franchise to Bungie.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.23-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.18-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 20 new highs and 9 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.8 billion shares, compared with the 8.9 billion-share average over the last 20 trading days.


(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Bill Berkrot)

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