US equities post weekly losses amid earnings, Fed decision

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New York, Feb 2 | US stocks pulled back in the busy week featuring a flurry of earnings reports and a key monetary policy decision from the Federal Reserve.

In the week ending Jan. 31, the Dow lost 2.53 per cent, the S&P was down 2.12 per cent and Nasdaq shed 1.76 per cent.

US stocks logged a sharp drop on Friday, with the Dow plunging more than 600 points amid a steep market sell-off led by energy shares. Both the 30-stock index and S&P 500 index notched their biggest one-day falls since August, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Energy companies lined up to release quarterly results on Friday. Shares of Exxon Mobil dropped more than 4 percent after the U.S. oil giant delivered fourth-quarter earnings that fell short of expectations. Chevron stock also struggled on its weaker-than-anticipated quarterly results.

The S&P 500 energy sector dipped 3.18 per cent on Friday, the worst-performing group. For the week, the energy group declined 6.75 per cent.

Amazon stock jumped 7.38 per cent Friday fuelled by its blowout quarterly earnings. US top electric vehicle maker Tesla delivered stronger-than-expected quarterly profits, sending the stock up more than 15 percent for the week.

Facebook shares struggled after the U.S. social networking company reported quarterly results that showed a sharp rise in expenses and narrowing margins.

On Tuesday, US tech giant Apple reported a record US $91.8 billion in revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 boosted by an uptick in iPhone sales during the period.

Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported by far, more than 70 percent delivered earnings that topped analyst expectations, according to FactSet.

Travel-related stocks including airlines were under pressure this week as Wall Street weighed potential impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Investors also closely followed news about the US central bank’s policy.

The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday left interest rates unchanged and maintained a wait-and-see stance after wrapping up its first monetary policy meeting of 2020.

“The Committee judges that the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate to support sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation returning to the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective,” the Fed said in a statement after the meeting, referring to the central bank’s policy-making committee.

On the data front, US economic growth slowed to 2.3 per cent in 2019 and had an annual rate of 2.1 per cent in the fourth quarter in the “advance” estimate, the US Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The slowdown in real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2019, compared to 2.9 percent in 2018, primarily reflected decelerations in nonresidential fixed investment and personal consumption expenditures and a downturn in exports.

In the week ending Jan. 25, US initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, stood at 216,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the Department of Labour said on Thursday. The previous week’s level was revised up by 12,000 from 211,000 to 223,000.

US consumer confidence index stood at 131.6 in January, up from 128.2 in December, driven by a more positive assessment of the current job market and increased optimism about future job prospects, New York-based The Conference Board said on Tuesday.

Sales of US new single-family houses fell 0.4 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 694,000 units in December, the Department of Commerce reported on Monday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales would increase 1.5 per cent to a pace of 730,000 units in December.

In January, the Dow shed 1 per cent and the S&P edged 0.2 per cent lower while the Nasdaq gained 2 percent.

Source: IANS

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