U.S. Stocks Rise, on Course for Weekly Gains

By Akane Otani and Riva Gold Features Dow Jones Newswires

Yellen, Draghi in the spotlight

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-- U.S. stock indexes head toward weekly gains

-- Samsung shares drag on Korea's Kospi

The S&P 500 headed toward its first weekly gain in three weeks, as broad advances across sectors helped offset a slide in retail stocks.

Major indexes' moves were muted most of the week -- something traders attributed to the dearth of major economic reports on the calendar and a lull in trading toward the end of August.

The number of shares changing hands over a full session of trade on exchanges owned by the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq fell to their lowest level of 2017 on Wednesday, and hovered below average levels the rest of the week.

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Still, while major indexes largely trudged along, corporate news continued to drive swings in individual sectors.

Shares of consumer-staples companies in the S&P 500 lagged behind, on course to end the week down 0.8%, after disappointing earnings pulled shares of J.M. Smucker and Hormel Foods lower on Thursday.

Food retailers also suffered, with General Mills, Kellogg and Campbell Soup down about 3% apiece for the week after Amazon.com said Thursday that it planned to cut prices of top-selling grocery staples at Whole Foods after its deal to acquire the chain closes.

"Investors are sorting out the winners and losers, and you see that clearly in the battle in Amazon versus traditional retailers," said Stephen Rigali, executive vice president at Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 52 points, or 0.2%, to 21836 on Friday, on course for a 0.7% weekly gain. The S&P 500 inched up 0.3%, heading toward a 0.8% weekly gain, and the Nasdaq Composite fell less than 0.1%, but was on track to end the week 0.8% higher.

Investors were also monitoring addresses from central bankers at an annual gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyo., including Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

U.S. stocks extended gains Friday, while government bonds edged higher, after Ms. Yellen focused on financial regulation in her address -- offering no comment on the economic outlook or the direction of monetary policy.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was recently at 2.178%, according to Tradeweb, compared with 2.194% on Thursday. Yields fall as bond prices rise.

The dollar pulled back, with the WSJ Dollar Index -- a measure of the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies -- falling 0.4%. The index has fallen more than 7% this year as a string of lukewarm economic data has left investors betting the Fed won't rush to raise rates.

Higher rates tend to make the dollar more attractive to yield-seeking investors while weakening demand for government bonds.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1%, weighed down by declines in shares of travel and leisure companies.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average climbed 0.5%, buoyed by a rally in shares of Yamaha Motor Co., Toyota Motor Co. and Sony Corp. The Nikkei logged its sixth straight weekly decline.

The Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.8% on Friday, while South Korea's Kopsi edged up 0.1%, weighed down by declines in shares of Samsung Electronics Co. Samsung's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, was found guilty of bribing South Korea's president and sentenced to five years in prison on Friday.

Write to Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com and Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 25, 2017 12:10 ET (16:10 GMT)