Stocks climb; S&P 500 breaks two-week losing streak

Stocks rose on Friday, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index cruised to its first winning week in the last three.

Continue Reading Below

It was a relatively quiet week, with fewer shares trading hands than usual, and one where the most anticipated event was a pair of speeches expected to create only a ripple in the market, if that. The annual symposium of central bankers in Wyoming followed through on those expectations.

The S&P 500 rose 4.08 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,443.05, and it barely budged off its course after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave her speech in the morning. The day's other headline event, a speech by European Central Bank head Mario Draghi, likewise did little to alter the course for stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 30.27 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,813.67, the Nasdaq composite dipped 5.68, or 0.1 percent, to 6,265.64 and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 3.58, or 0.3 percent, to 1,377.45.

Central bankers have used past gatherings of economists in Jackson Hole to signal big changes in policy, and investors were listening in case this time followed suit.

But Yellen focused on defending regulation of the financial industry and gave no indication of changes to interest-rate policy. While the speech may lower her chances of getting reappointed Fed chair next year, as President Donald Trump has been in favor of reducing regulations, it didn't change investors' expectations that the Fed will continue to slowly raise interest rates and prepare to pare back its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

Continue Reading Below

The biggest reaction to the speeches may have been in the currency market, where the dollar fell against rivals following Yellen's speech. Gains for the euro also accelerated following Draghi's speech.

The dollar fell to 109.24 Japanese yen from 109.51 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1888 from $1.1806, and the British pound rose to $1.2880 from $1.2802.

In the stock market, design-software company Autodesk jumped to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after reporting stronger results for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It gained $4.36, or 3.9 percent, to $114.97.

Stocks have been winding up and down since the S&P 500 set a record earlier this month. Stronger-than-expected earnings reports from big U.S. companies have helped to support the market, while worries about politics have intermittently chipped away at confidence.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.7 percent this week, following losses of 0.6 percent and 1.4 percent the last two weeks.

President Trump plans to make a push next week in his efforts to overhaul the tax system, with a stop scheduled in Springfield, Missouri. Tax reform was one of the big pro-business policies that investors were banking on early this year after Republicans swept control of Washington, though expectations have dimmed in recent months.

"The market generally does not believe that anything is going to happen, it's maybe a 20 to 30 percent chance," said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors.

Orlando, though, thinks it's more likely that tax reform will happen, as Republicans look to notch a major win before the 2018 elections.

"Republicans have got to know that if they don't get anything done, they're toast," Orlando said. "This concept of self-preservation is a powerful one, in terms of keeping their jobs."

In overseas markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 index picked up 0.5 percent, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 1.2 percent and South Korea's Kospi edged up by 0.1 percent. European markets were weaker. The CAC 40 in France fell 0.2 percent, the German DAX dipped 0.1 percent and the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.1 percent.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.17 percent from 2.20 percent late Thursday. The two-year yield held steady at 1.33 percent, and the 30-year yield slipped to 2.75 percent from 2.77 percent.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 44 cents to settle at $47.87 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 37 cents to $52.41 per barrel.

Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.67 per gallon, heating oil was virtually unchanged at $1.62 per gallon and natural gas fell 6 cents to $2.89 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $5.90 to $1,297.90 per ounce, silver rose 9 cents to $17.05 per ounce and copper was little changed at $3.03 per pound.