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U.S. stocks post slight losses as Dow, S&P end April flat for the month

Stock Markets Apr 29, 2016 04:52PM ET
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The Dow, NASDAQ and S&P all closed lower on Friday, ending their worst week since early-February
 
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Investing.com -- U.S. stocks fell slightly on Friday, ending April with one of their worst weeks since early-February as a sell-off in the technology and health care sectors, as well as a wave of soft economic data weighed on the major indices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 57.12 or 0.32% to 17,773.64, while the S&P 500 Composite index fell 10.51 or 0.51% to 2,065.30, each closing lower despite a late rally in the final hour of the session. At session-lows, both indices moved into negative territory for the month before recovering to close the month fractionally higher. On the S&P 500, six of 10 sectors closed in the red. The SPDR XLV Health Care Sector ETF fell sharply, as Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ:GILD) shares plunged more than 9% to 88.21 following worse than expected quarterly earnings. Shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (NYSE:VRX) also plummeted more than 5% to 33.37, after the embattled pharmaceutical company released its delayed annual report ahead of a deadline from U.S. federal regulators. In the report, Valeant disclosed that state officials in North Carolina have launched an investigation into the company's marketing and pricing practices. Valeant also noted that seven members of its Board of Directors have opted not to seek re-election later this year.

Stocks in the Utilities sector led, gaining more than 0.5% on the session, as inventors turned to high-dividend, defensive plays.

The NASDAQ Composite index, meanwhile, fell 29.93 or 0.62% to 4,775.36, suffering its seventh consecutive losing session. A batch of disappointing quarterly results from Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) dragged down the NASDAQ throughout the week, after the trio of tech giants severely missed earnings forecasts. Apple shares continued their descent on Friday, one day after billionaire investor Carl Icahn announced that he was exiting his position in the world's largest company due to heightened concerns with iPhone growth prospects in China. Consequently, the NASDAQ ended April down by more than 3%.

Adding to investor jitters, consumer confidence in the U.S. slumped to a 7-month low while Core PCE inflation fell slightly in March, potentially lowering the chances of a June interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. The downbeat data also pushed the dollar to its lowest level since last July, bolstering commodity prices worldwide.

The VIX Volatility jumped more than two points to two-month highs at 17.09, before paring some of the gains late on Friday. For the week, the VIX jumped by more than 11%. Gold, which is viewed as a safe-haven for investors in periods of heightened economic instability, soared more than $25 an ounce to touch 15-month highs.

The top performer on the Dow was Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD), which gained 1.16 or 0.87% to 133.89. The worst performer was Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT), which fell 2.04 or 2.96% to 66.87. Shares in the world's largest retailer are still down by more than 12% over the last year.

The biggest gainer on the NASDAQ was Monster Beverage (NASDAQ:MNST), which surged more than 12% to 144.22. Earlier on Friday, the energy soft-drink company reported stronger than expected quarterly earnings, reaping the benefits from a comprehensive distribution deal with Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO). Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) jumped 57.59 or 9.57% to 659.59 after reporting gains for the fourth straight quarter on Friday. Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) fell 5.13 or 19.07% to 21.77, after the data storage company provided lower revenue guidance and flat gross margin growth following weaker than expected earnings.

On the New York Stock Exchange, declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by a 1,736-1,296 margin.

U.S. stocks post slight losses as Dow, S&P end April flat for the month
 

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