MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stocks Mixed After Data, North Korean Missile Launch, But On Track For Weekly Gains

By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica Features Dow Jones Newswires

Analyst: Investors have been trained to ignore Korea

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U.S. stocks were mixed Friday as investors looked past North Korea's firing of another missile over Japan and digested some disappointing economic data, leaving major indexes on track for solid weekly gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 25 points to 22,228, a rise of 0.1%. The blue-chip average hit a record in early trading, and if it closes finishes on Friday, it will mark its fourth straight record close.

The S&P 500 was down 1 point to 2,495. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 6 points, or 0.1%, to 6,422. Both the S&P and the Nasdaq hit records earlier this week.

"Investors have been programmed to more or less ignore stuff with Korea. The last two or three times this kind of thing occurred we went down a little, only to turn back higher. We've learned to buy on the dips," said Terry Morris, senior vice president and senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company.

For the week, the Dow is up 1.9%, the S&P is up 1.4% and the Nasdaq is up 1.1%. All three are on track for their third positive week of the past four.

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North Korea fired a missile over Japan (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/un-security-council-to-hold-emergency-meeting-after-latest-north-korean-missile-test-2017-09-14) for the second time in less than a month, defying rising international efforts to force it to abandon course. In a rare move, South Korea responded by immediately conducting a simulated strike of the North Korean launch site, while alerts were sent in Japan to smartphones of people living in areas where the missile passed over early Friday local time.

The top-performing sectors on the day were utilities and telecommunications, both of which were up a little more than 0.3%. The industries are considered defensive plays, meaning they are preferred in times of economic uncertainty or volatility.

Gold futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/golds-safe-haven-lift-fades-leaving-weekly-retreat-intact-2017-09-15)--which tend to draw buyers in times of geopolitical tension--were unchanged at $1,329.6 as an earlier gain faded. The precious metal had climbed to around $1,338 an ounce following North Korea's latest move.

South Korea's Kospi index closed 0.4% higher, bouncing back from an earlier drop, as Asian markets overall finished mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-stocks-mostly-retreat-after-north-koreas-latest-missile-test-2017-09-14).

The geopolitical tension comes at a time when investors have become concerned about valuations and there are questions about the pace of economic growth. The latest economic data failed to provide much clarity on the state of the economy. U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in August (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-retail-sales-slump-near-end-of-summer-2017-09-15), dropping 0.2% in their second decline of the past three months. Separately, the Empire State factory gauge hit 24.4 in September, down slightly.

Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)

U.S. industrial output fell 0.9% in August, its first drop in seven months. The Federal Reserve said the decline was mostly due to the recent impact of Hurricane Harvey.

"Valuations are stretched, but I don't believe we're in bubble territory. The market can go a lot higher," Morris said. "Recent data has been mixed, but given the storms it's hard to read too much into it."

Other markets:Oil futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-sees-modest-losses-after-north-korea-missile-test-2017-09-15) were modestly higher, remaining on track for a weekly gain of about 5%. European stocks were mostly lower, largely staying on course for a weekly advance (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-head-for-16-weekly-rise-as-investors-shake-off-north-korea-jitters-2017-09-15). The ICE U.S. Dollar Index lost ground, but still was up for the week, as the pound hit a fresh 2017 high against the buck (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ballistic-pound-shoots-up-to-highest-level-since-brexit-vote-2017-09-15) above the $1.36 mark following another hawkish signal from the Bank of England (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/boe-dove-vlieghe-now-sees-need-for-rate-hike-2017-09-15).

Individual movers: Shares in Oracle Corp.(ORCL) fell 6.1% after the software giant's outlook late Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oracle-stock-flips-to-a-post-earnings-loss-after-guidance-2017-09-14) came in below Wall Street's expectations.

The stock pressured technology shares, which were down 0.3%, among the biggest decliners of the day.

See:Oracle outlook raises concerns about growth (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oracle-outlook-raises-concerns-about-growth-2017-09-14)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 15, 2017 09:59 ET (13:59 GMT)