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S&P closes lower for the 10th time in last 12 sessions

Heidi Chung
Reporter

Stocks closed mixed on Friday after all three major indices sold off during Thursday’s trading session.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) sunk slightly by 0.04%, or 1 point on Friday, while the Dow (^DJI) rose 0.26%, or 64.89 points, and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) fell 0.48%, or 36.11 points.

Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.196%, and the yield on the 30-year note also increased to 3.378% at the end of Friday’s trading session.

The S&P’s lower close on Friday marked the tenth down day in the past 12 trading sessions, and Wall Street strategists continue to struggle to pinpoint what triggered the volatility in the past three weeks.

“Despite the market drama, the macro news flow has been relatively quiet, leaving many market participants searching for explanations,” Goldman Sachs’ Charles Himmelberg said on Friday.

However, Himmelberg does agree with strategists who say that the tightening of monetary policy has at least something to do with the volatility.

“In our view, the magnitude of these macro concerns seems outsized relative to the magnitude of the recent evidence,” Himmelberg added. “In particular, our US economists report “no change” to their Fed views in light of recent events, nor is there any new evidence of growth weakness in recent macro data. The market’s recent macro concerns seem overdone.”

STOCKS: Procter & Gamble and PayPal surge on earnings beats

Procter & Gamble (PG) shares soared 8% on Friday after reporting its strongest sales growth in five years. The company reported earnings of $1.12 per share on $16.69 billion in revenue versus Wall Street’s expectation of $1.08 per share on $16.46 billion in revenue. Procter & Gamble was the best-performing Dow stock on Friday.

Shares of PayPal (PYPL) jumped 9% during Friday’s trading session after the payment stock reported a big beat on both the top and bottom lines. The company said that Venmo’s total volume rose by 78% in the third quarter.

Alibaba (BABA) said that the company’s approaching 10th anniversary of its Single’s Day event this year would be its largest ever in terms of scale and reach. The stock rallied 1% on Thursday on the news. Alibaba did not provide a sales forecast for the event.

ECONOMICS: Existing home sales in September slump

The National Association of Realtors released existing home sales figures for September on Friday.

US existing home sales fell for six straight months and by the most in two years after the NAR revealed a 3.4% decline to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.15 million units in the month of September versus 5.33 million in the month prior.

Grim, but the trend is not as bad as the headline,” Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macro said in a note.

Economists polled by Bloomberg were anticipating a 0.9% decrease to 5.29 million units for the month of September.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEWS: China’s economic growth slows down

China’s economic growth is losing steam as the country saw its slowest quarterly growth pace in nearly a decade. According to PNC’s Chief Economist Gus Faucher, “the slowdown is not principally due to trade frictions. In fact, China’s trade surplus in goods with the United States reached a record high of $31 billion US dollars in August, a tailwind to Chinese growth.” Rather, “domestic policies are the headwind,” Faucher said in a note on Thursday.

Following the disappointing GDP numbers, top Chinese regulators came to the rescue by issuing statements of support to boost overall market sentiment.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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