Wall Street drifts as S&P 500 nears another weekly gain

The statue of George Washington is seen in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on October 11, 2019 at Wall Street in New York City. - Wall Street stocks jumped early Friday on optimism for progress in US-China negotiations, including a possible agreement to pause new tariff measures. The talks in Washington, now in their second day, were given a positive push by US President Donald Trump, who said the negotiations were "going really well" and was scheduled to meet later Friday with China's top trade envoy Liu He. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Wall Street is drifting in early trading Friday, as the S&P 500 closes in on a third straight winning week.

The benchmark index was up 0.1%, as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern time, following a mixed performance for stocks overseas. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 38 points, or 0.1%, at 26,772, and the Nasdaq composite was virtually flat.

Trading was relatively quiet across markets, with Treasury yields, gold and crude oil all making only modest moves. Even Chinese stocks were holding relatively steady: The Shanghai Composite index inched up just 0.1% following a run earlier this month where its average daily move was more than 2%.

Most stocks across the U.S. market were higher, with homebuilders and construction-material companies helping to lead the way after a report showed a bigger jump in home construction during June than economists expected.

PulteGroup rose 2%, and Lennar added 1.7%.

Netflix fell 6.9% for the largest loss in the S&P 500 after its forecast for new subscribers during the summer fell short of Wall Street’s own expectations, even though it reported stronger earnings for the spring than analysts expected.

It’s a relatively rare step down for Netflix, which is still up roughly 50% for 2020 so far.

This week has seen some weakness for big tech-oriented stocks, which have been gliding higher through much of the pandemic on expectations that they can continue to grow almost regardless of the economy. The big run has critics saying they’ve become too expensive, even after accounting for the huge profits that they produce.

Microsoft slipped another 0.8% Friday, while Apple dipped 0.1%. Tech stocks across the S&P 500 were down 0.1% in early trading, while internet and other communication-services stocks were down 0.7%. They were two of only three sectors in the S&P 500 that were lower.

The S&P 500 is on track for a 1.1% rise for the week, though that would be the mildest in its three-week run. It’s rallied back within 5% of its record set in February and is back to roughly where it was in early June.

Pushing stocks up recently have been signs of improvement in the economy, along with rising hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine. Underlying it all is massive aid for the economy and the promise of ultralow interest rates from the Federal Reserve.

But pulling stocks down at the same time have been worries about the continuing rise in coronavirus counts across the country, which threatens to derail the improvements.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 0.61%.

In the commodities markets, gold added 0.5% to $1,809.40 per ounce. Benchmark U.S. crude oil inched up 5 cents to $40.98. Brent crude, the international standard, slipped 12 cents to $43.25 per barrel.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX returned 0.4%, and France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.2%. The FTSE 100 in London added 0.6%.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.3%, South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.5%.

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