Stocks manage modest gains but still end lower for the week

Stocks manage modest gains but still end lower for the week

The June gold contract was up US$15.40 at US$1,756.30 an ounce and the July copper contract was down 1.55 cents at US$2.33 a pound. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) traded 1.9% higher after sliding more than 1.4% earlier in the session.

Friday's main focus was the Census Bureau's monthly retail sales figures which revealed that U.S. retail sales collapsed in April as lockdowns to brake the Covid-19 pandemic's advance across the country kept consumers indoors and Americas kept their wallets shut even as many were forced to join unemployment queues. Trading was volatile, and the index went from an early loss of 1.1 percent to a gain of 0.1 percent and back to more losses, all in the span of 90 minutes.

Fears of a second wave of COVID-19 infections have also emerged in recent weeks, pouring cold water on hopes of a swift recovery that helped the three main US stock indexes climb about 30% from their March lows.

After two straight routs, Wall Street stocks finished higher Thursday as beaten-down banking shares rallied despite another spike in jobless claims. Walmart traded 0.8% higher while Home Depot advanced 3%.

On other data front, the preliminary reading of U.S. consumer-sentiment survey edged up to 73.7 in May from 71.8 in April, the University of MI said Friday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a decline of 12.3%. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index unexpectedly rose in early May as USA fiscal stimulus measures "improved consumers' finances and widespread price discounting boosted their buying attitudes". "If you have a deeper hole, you're starting point is lower".

Wall Street stocks slumped for a second straight session on Wednesday (May 13) after the Federal Reserve chief highlighted the risks facing the USA economy after coronavirus shutdowns.

The Trump administration moved to block semiconductor shipments to Chinese company Huawei.

"Given how dependent USA markets have been on technology companies driving their gains, if there's anything that's going to wear on the tech space, this will concern the whole market", said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.

China's countermeasures include launching investigations and imposing restrictions on USA companies such as Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Qualcomm Inc, as well as suspending purchase of Boeing Co airplanes, the report said, citing a source. Hu's Twitter account was closely followed a year ago by traders looking for insight on the U.S. Interest rate-sensitive bank shares shed 4.4%, tracking a fall in U.S. Treasury yields. "I don't really quite understand what the rationale is there". Small-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market.

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