Market Snapshot: Stock market struggles early Friday, S&P 500 clings to small weekly gain amid ‘quad witching’


U.S. stock benchmarks were under selling pressure early Friday, as investors weighed up recent economic data and braced for potential volatility from simultaneous options expiries due later in the session.

How are stocks trading?
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average

    picked up 10 points to 34,761, a gain of less than 0.1%.
  • The S&P 500 index was trading 9 points, or 0.2%, lower at 4,464.
  • The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 47 points, or 0.3%, to 15,483.

On Thursday, the Dow industrials

closed down 63.07 points, or 0.2%, to 34,751.32, the S&P 500

ended down 6.95 points, or 0.2%, to 4,473.75, while the Nasdaq Composite

rose 20.39 points, or 0.1%, to finish at 15,181.92.

For the week, the Dow is up 0.4%, the S&P 500 is nursing a 0.1% gain, while the Nasdaq Composite is also up 0.1% on the week.

What’s driving the market?

A week of seesaw trading has left all three major indexes with gains of around 0.4% or slightly less for the week through Thursday. Some of that volatility may be blamed on the run-up to Friday’s “quadruple witching,” the simultaneous expiration of individual stock options, stock-index options, stock-index futures and single-stock futures.

The pause in the stock market rally also came a day after data showed stronger-than-expected U.S. August retail sales, but a jump in weekly jobless benefit claims, all ahead of next week’s two-day Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting.

“Market sentiment is mixed, as investors don’t know what to do with the latest economic data and their Federal Reserve (Fed) expectations these days,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “Stronger-than-expected data seemed to have fueled Fed tapering expectations rather than the bulls’ appetite.”

And: Fed interest rate hike outlook due next week carries risk of hawkish surprise

Read: When the Fed finally steps back, can the U.S. stock and bond markets stand on their own legs?

A busy week of data included softer-than-expected consumer price inflation for August on Tuesday, which left both the Dow and S&P 500 lower, as investors fretted that underlying price pressures may not ease up.

And while While Street firms have expressed nervousness as stocks grind higher, Ozkardeskaya said a correction is being prevented by “the fear of missing out on a further rally in equities, the so-called FOMO syndrome, and the fact that there is no alternative, the so-called TINA.”

While the U.S. 10-year yield is now above 1.30%, an advance to 2% that many forecast earlier this year has yet to happen, the analyst said, adding that “the high inflationary pressures leave investors with no place to go but the equities. Therefore, the U.S. indexes will continue claiming new highs in the coming sessions.”

Read: Will high inflation kill the bull market in stocks? History says probably not

Friday’s data will include the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

On the COVID front, a group of independent advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet on Friday to review and vote on whether vaccinated Americans should get booster shots. While companies such as Pfizer Inc.

and Moderna Inc.

say the boosters are needed, scientists have cited a lack of evidence to support that rollout.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Shares of Invesco

    were up 5% after The Wall Street Journal, citing sources, reported that the investment management group is in merger talks with State Street Corp.’s

    asset-management unit. State Street shares were off 0.4%.
How are other assets trading?
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury

    note rose 4 basis point to 1.37%.
  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
    a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was trading roughly flat at 92.935.
  • Oil futures continued to retreat from a seven-week high, with the U.S. benchmark

    down 1% to $71.88 a barrel. Gold futures

    declined 0.4%, or $6.20, to $1,750.40 an ounce.
  • In European equities, the Stoxx Europe 600 index

    rose 0.1% and the FTSE 100

    slipped less than 0.1%.
  • In Asia, the Shanghai Composite

    rose 0.1%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index

    gained 1% and the Japan’s Nikkei 225 index

    rose 0.5%.

Metals Stocks: Gold futures head for second weekly loss in a row

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