Main equity benchmarks see weekly gains
U.S. stocks fell Friday but closed off the lows of the day following President Donald Trump's promise of a much-awaited tax-overhal plan and ahead of the first round of France's closely watched presidential election.
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Trump told the Associated Press he would be releasing a "massive tax cut" package (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-says-he-plans-to-release-massive-tax-cut-proposal-next-week-2017-04-21) in the coming week. A day earlier, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump's tax overhaul will be unveiled in the near future.
The S&P 500 index finished down 7.15 points, or 0.3%, at 2,348.69, after an earlier 11-point decline. Nine of the 11 main sectors finished lower. Telecoms and financial shares led losses, closing down 1.6% and 0.9%, respectively.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 30.95 points, or 0.2%, at 20,547.76, trimming what had been a 73-point retreat, with shares of both General Electric Co. (GE) and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) finishing down 2.4%.
The Nasdaq Composite Index retreated from the record close set Thursday, falling 6.26 points, or 0.1%, to close at 5,910.52, after having dipped below the 5,900 mark earlier in the session.
For the week, the Dow industrials rose 0.5%, the S&P 500 advanced 0.9%, and the Nasdaq surged 1.8%, following two weeks of declines.
"What's impressive ahead of the [French] election is we've been able to hold yesterday's gains so far," said Mark Kepner, managing director of sales and trading at Themis Trading. On Thursday, benchmarks rallied nearly 1% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-set-to-claw-its-way-back-from-triple-digit-loss-as-oil-prices-rebound-2017-04-20).
Lack of progress in passing and implementing tax reforms have put a damper on the monthslong rally that followed the presidential elections in November. But markets continued to react to comments on policy changes by the Trump administration cabinet members, such as Mnuchin and White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.
See:5 charts show what the French presidential election means for financial markets (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-charts-show-what-the-french-presidential-election-means-for-financial-markets-2017-04-21)
Late Thursday, a gunman opened fire (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gunman-slain-after-killing-paris-police-officer-trump-suggests-terrorism-2017-04-20) on the Champs-Élysées boulevard in Paris, killing a police officer and wounding two others. European stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/french-stocks-slide-after-paris-attack-fuels-election-uncertainty-2017-04-21) were mixed with the Stoxx Europe 600 finishing fractionally higher and France's CAC 40 index closing down 0.4%.
The attack could give a late-campaign surge in support for anti-immigration, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the tight presidential race, analysts said. Le Pen has vowed to hold a referendum on France's membership of the European Union, fueling fears of a breakup of the bloc. One of her three key rivals, far-left euroskeptic Jean Luc Mélenchon, has also pledged to renegotiate EU treaties and hold a referendum.
See:Here's how the French election could test the U.S. stock market's resilience (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-french-election-could-test-us-stock-markets-resilience-2017-04-21)
Read:Here's how France's hotly contested election could spark market turmoil (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-frances-hotly-contested-election-could-spark-market-turmoil-2017-04-19)
(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-frances-hotly-contested-election-could-spark-market-turmoil-2017-04-19)Economic news: Wrapping up the data calendar for the week, the Markit flash purchasing managers index for April dropped to 52.7 from 53.2. Sales of previously-owned homes rose in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million, a 4.4% monthly rise, the National Association of Realtors reported Friday--the strongest pace since February 2007 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/existing-home-sales-hit-a-10-year-high-in-march-as-homes-fly-off-the-market-2017-04-21).
In Federal Reserve news, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari warned that curbing immigration to the U.S. will result in slower economic growth, while Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said weak economic growth in the first quarter is likely temporary (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/feds-fischer-says-first-quarter-doldrums-only-temporary-and-rate-hikes-can-proceed-2017-04-21) and that rate increases should be able to proceed as planned.
Earnings season: The results season continued at full speed on Friday with General Electric Co.(GE) reporting earnings ahead of expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/general-electric-profit-rises-beat-expectations-2017-04-21). But shares finished down 2.4%.
Honeywell International Inc.(HON) also beat forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/honeywell-tops-profit-and-sales-estimates-2017-04-21), sending the shares up 2.7%.
Schlumberger Ltd.(SLB), on the other hand, fell 2.2%, after revenue missed Wall Street estimates (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/schlumbergers-stock-slips-as-revenue-rises-but-comes-up-short-of-expectations-2017-04-21).
After the market closed on Thursday, Visa Inc.(V) reported better-than-expected revenue (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/visa-results-better-than-expected-but-profit-falls-2017-04-20), but shares were flat on Friday.
Shares of Mattel Inc.(MAT) dropped nearly 14% after the toy maker's quarterly results out late Thursday fell short of Wall Street estimates (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/mattel-shares-drop-after-results-fall-short-of-street-view-2017-04-20).
Other markets: Stocks in Asia closed mainly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/led-by-nikkei-asian-markets-build-on-overnight-gains-2017-04-20), boosted by the higher close in the U.S. on Thursday.
Oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-steady-as-investors-watch-for-opec-signals-2017-04-21) fell 2.2% to settle at $49.62 a barrel while gold prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-logs-a-gain-for-the-session-erases-its-loss-for-the-week-2017-04-21) settled up 0.4% at $1,289.10 an ounce. The dollar inched higher against other major currencies, with the ICE Dollar Index up 0.2%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was virtually flat at 2.229%.
--Sara Sjolin in London contributed to this article.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 21, 2017 16:31 ET (20:31 GMT)