Summary

The major domestic equity indexes ended the trading day on Friday flat ahead of the long holiday weekend. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also eked out record closing highs, and the S&P 500 posted a seventh straight session of gains, matching a winning streak from February.

Helping the consumer staples index, Costco rose 1.8 percent to $177.86 and was among the largest drivers of the S&P and Nasdaq indexes. The warehouse club operator reported results Thursday.

Earlier in the day, a report showed that the U.S. economy grew at a 1.2 percent pace in the first quarter, slightly more than the 0.7 percent estimated earlier. The higher reading was in line with economists’ expectations.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.3 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.4 percent and the Nasdaq added 2.1 percent.

The consumer staples index and the consumer discretionary index were both up 0.3 percent. The gains were mostly offset by declines in healthcare and real estate stocks.

Ulta Beauty rose 3.2 percent, the second-largest percentage gainer in the S&P, after the company raised its full-year forecast.

Deckers Outdoor ended the day up 18.8 percent and hit a nine-month high during the session after reporting a surprise quarterly profit.

Among the laggards, GameStop fell 5.9 percent to $22.22. The videogame retailer left its full-year earnings forecast unchanged despite beating profit estimates.

Approximately 5.2 billion shares changing hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, making it one of the lowest volume days of the year. The financial markets will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day.

Economic Growth Surprises

Economic growth slowed less than initially thought in the first quarter, and there are signs of some weakness in the second quarter amid slowing business investment and moderate consumer spending.

Gross domestic product increased at a 1.2 percent annual rate instead of the 0.7 percent pace reported last month, the Commerce Department said on Friday in its second GDP estimate for the first three months of the year.

That was the poorest performance since the first quarter of 2016 and followed a 2.1 percent rate of expansion in the fourth quarter. The government revised up its initial estimate of consumer spending growth, but said inventory investment was less than previously reported.

The first-quarter weakness is a blow to President Trump’s ambitious goal to sharply boost economic growth rates. During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump had vowed to lift annual GDP growth to 4 percent, though administration officials now see 3 percent as more realistic.

Trump has proposed a range of measures to spur faster economic growth, including corporate and individual tax cuts. But analysts are skeptical that fiscal stimulus, if it materializes, will fire up the economy given weak productivity and labor shortages in some areas.

The economy’s sluggishness, however, is probably not a true reflection of its health. GDP for the first three months of the year tends to underperform because of difficulties with the calculation of data.

While GDP growth appears to have regained speed early in the second quarter, hopes of a sharp rebound have been tempered by weak business spending, a modest increase in retail sales last month, a widening of the goods trade deficit and decreases in inventory investment.

In a second report on Friday, the Commerce Department said non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, were unchanged in April for a second straight month.

Shipments of these so-called core capital goods dipped 0.1 percent after rising 0.2 percent in March. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.

The GDP report also showed an acceleration in business spending equipment was not as fast as previously estimated. Spending on equipment rose at a 7.2 percent rate in the first quarter rather than the 9.1 percent reported last month.

Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, rose at a 0.6 percent rate instead of the previously reported 0.3 percent pace. That was still the slowest pace since the fourth quarter of 2009 and followed the fourth quarter’s robust 3.5 percent growth rate.

Businesses accumulated inventories at a rate of $4.3 billion in the last quarter, rather than the $10.3 billion reported last month. Inventory investment increased at a $49.6 billion rate in the October-December period.

Inventories subtracted 1.07 percentage point from GDP growth instead of the 0.93 percentage point estimated last month.

The government also reported that corporate profits after tax with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments fell at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter, hurt by legal settlements, after rising at a 2.3 percent pace in the previous three months.

Penalties imposed by the government on the U.S. subsidiaries of Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank related to the sale of mortgage-backed securities reduced financial corporate profits by $5.6 billion in the first quarter.

In addition, a fine levied on Volkswagen related to violations of environmental regulations cut $4.3 billion from nonfinancial corporate profits.


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