UPDATE: Stocks close steady but post gains for the week ahead of U.S. Memorial Day holiday
By Mark DeCambre and Chris Matthews, MarketWatch
U.S. equity markets are closed Monday
U.S. stock benchmarks ended little changed Friday as investors looked ahead to a three-day weekend.
For the week though, equity indexes ended with strong gains as the markets largely shrugged off rising U.S.-China tensions and remained optimistic that the impact of coronavirus on corporate earnings will be relatively short-lived.
Read:Is the stock market closed today? Here's everything investors need to know about Memorial Day trading hours and closures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-the-stock-market-closed-today-heres-everything-investors-need-to-know-about-memorial-day-trading-hours-and-closures-2020-05-22)
How did the benchmarks trade?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 8.96 points, or less than 0.1%, to end at 24,465.16, weighed by shares of Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and Chevron Corp. (CVX). Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index closed 6.94 points higher, or 0.2%, at 2,955.45. The Nasdaq Composite traded 0.4% higher to finish the week at 9,324.59, a gain of 39.71 points.
Meanwhile, the Russell 2000 index , representing smaller-capitalization companies, gained 7.97 points, or 0.6% to close at 1,355.53
For the week, the Dow climbed 3.3%, the S&P 500 advanced 3.2% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 3.4%. The Russell 2000 notched a 7.8% weekly rise.
What drove the market?
U.S. equities on Friday held on to the gains they amassed for the week, with returns pegged to optimism about businesses reopening in many states--all 50 are engaged in some stage of business-restarting plans. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he wouldn't move to shut down the U.S. economy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-says-us-wont-shut-down-again-if-theres-second-wave-of-coronavirus-2020-05-21) to stem the spread of a potential second wave of COVID-19.
"We are going to put out the fires. We're not going to close the country," he said, speaking at a Ford Motor Co.(F) factory in Michigan.
See: States reopen after coronavirus lockdowns (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-states-are-loosening-economic-shut-down-orders-texas-expected-to-announce-new-rules-soon-2020-04-23)
U.S. equities are increasingly pricing in a reopening of the economy and a slow but steady rebound in economic activity, Sebastien Galy, Nordea Asset Management's senior macro strategist, wrote in a Friday research note.
"Consensus is for either a U or W shaped and we are no different from this. What we expect is that the simple realization of this consensus view will be welcomed by the market as more dire scenarios are priced out," wrote Galy.
Equity investors are also anticipating a vaccine will be developed for COVID-19, which has infected more than 5 million people and claimed 330,000 lives world-wide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. White House infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he remains confident that a remedy for the illness can be achieved this year, speaking with NPR's Noel King in a Friday interview (https://www.npr.org/2020/05/22/860682211/dr-anthony-fauci-on-u-s-efforts-to-develop-a-coronavirus-vaccine).
He also said that vaccine candidates being worked on by the likes of Moderna Inc. (MRNA) looked promising.
Former Vice President Joe Biden during a Friday CNBC interview (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/biden-doesnt-see-v-shaped-recovery-calls-rebound-from-coronavirus-long-way-away-2020-05-22)said that economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is a "long way away." The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told the business network that "the way to fix the economy is get the public health response correct."
However, the week has also been colored by worries about U.S.-China relations, which have deteriorated in recent weeks, capping further gains for risk assets.
Given the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, China dropped its GDP target for the first time since adopting the practice in 1994 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/china-promises-more-spending-to-help-revive-economy-wont-set-growth-target-2020-05-21), but of more concern officials suggested the government is preparing to impose a national-security law on Hong Kong (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/china-to-consider-bill-that-would-rein-in-hong-kongs-autonomy-2020-05-21) in response to last year's pro-democracy protests.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled 5.6% in response, marking its biggest loss in around five years.
The U.S. Congress was moving forward with (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/senate-could-vote-on-bill-that-could-delist-chinese-companies-from-us-stock-exchanges-2020-05-19)a bill that could prevent Chinese companies from listing on U.S. exchanges. The bill would require Chinese companies to establish they are not owned or controlled by a foreign government and to submit to audits by the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which Chinese firms have thus far refused to do.
Still, China has vowed to comply with a first phase of Sino-American trade pact forged last year.
See: Bill that could delist Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges to see 'swift passage' in House, analyst says (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bill-that-could-delist-chinese-companies-from-us-stock-exchanges-to-see-swift-passage-in-house-analyst-says-2020-05-21)
U.S. markets will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day, and the bond market closed an hour early at 2 p.m. Eastern on Friday and will remain closed until Tuesday.
Which stocks were in focus?
Check out: COVID-19 case tally: 5.12 million cases, 333,323 deaths and India suffers biggest one-day case increase (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/covid-19-case-tally-512-million-cases-333323-deaths-and-india-suffers-biggest-one-day-case-increase-2020-05-22)
How did other markets trade?
U.S. government bond yields ended Friday lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/treasury-yields-sink-as-us-china-tensions-threatens-renewed-geopolitical-risk-2020-05-22), with the 10-year Treasury note down 1.8 basis point at 0.659%. Bond prices move inversely to yields. The bond market closes at 2 p.m. Eastern on Friday and will remain closed on Monday in observance of Memorial Day.
The U.S. dollar strengthened against a basket of its major rivals, with the ICE U.S. dollar index trading up 0.4%.
In precious metals (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-edges-higher-a-day-after-decline-induced-by-coronavirus-vaccine-hope-2020-05-19), gold futures for June delivery rose $12, or 0.7%, to settle at about $1,735.50 an ounce, but were on track for a weekly decline of more than 1%.
Crude for July delivery was down sharply (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-tumble-alongside-global-equities-amid-fears-about-china-turbulence-2020-05-22), fell 67 cents, or 2%, to settle at 33.25 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In global equities, the Stoxx Europe 600 index closed less than 0.1% lower, while the FTSE 100 ended the session down 0.4%. The FTSE 100 will be closed on Monday for a holiday.
In Asia trade, Japan's Nikkei rose 0.8%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced less than 0.1%, while the Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.5%, as did the CSI 300 Index .
-Mark DeCambre; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 22, 2020 16:25 ET (20:25 GMT)
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