U.S. stocks closed lower Friday, with the Dow briefly dropping more than 100 points during the last hour of trading after Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greece’s credit rating with a negative outlook, reigniting concerns about the health of the global economy. However, for the week, the Dow rose 658 points, or 3.83 percent, marking its best week since January 2013.
Investors initially cheered a stronger-than-expected jobs report Friday that marked the longest stretch of job gains above the 200,000 level since 1994; however, U.S. stocks later fluctuated in afternoon trading on concerns that strong job growth could translate into the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates sooner than expected.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 60.59 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 17,824.29; the S&P 500 stock index lost 7.05 points, or 0.34 percent, to end at 2,055.47; and the Nasdaq Composite gained 20.70 points, or 0.43 percent, to finish at 4,744.40.
For the week, the S&P 500 rose 61 points, or 3.04 percent, its best week since Dec. 19; the Nasdaq rose 106 points, or 2.29 percent.
S&P Slashes Greece's Credit Rating
S&P downgraded Greece’s long-term credit rating by one notch to “B-” from “B” and maintained its negative outlook on the economy. The move comes after the European Central Bank announced Wednesday it is blocking banks from using Greek debt as collateral, increasing investors’ concerns about the global economy.
"The downgrade reflects our view that the liquidity constraints weighing on Greece's banks and its economy have narrowed the time frame during which the new government can reach an agreement on a financing program with its official creditors," S&P said in a statement Friday.
Global Oil Prices Post Biggest Two-Week Gain Since 1998
Oil prices rebounded by more than 20 percent in the last week during a period of highly volatile trading, sparked by growing evidence of declining U.S. rig counts and multiple announcements of capital spending cuts by oil firms, according to Capital Economics. “The near-term outlook for oil prices is unclear but we continue to expect the price of Brent to end the year at around $60,” Capital Economics said in a research note Friday.
Oil prices closed higher Friday, with Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, posting its best two-week gain since 1998. Brent crude added 2.2 percent Friday to $57.80 a barrel for March 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange. Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, rose 2.4 percent Friday to $51.69 a barrel for March 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Wall Street’s Week Ahead
Looking ahead to next week's economic calendar, economists will get a glimpse into the mindset of the U.S. consumer following the holiday shopping season. Retail sales for January will be released Thursday, a key indicator of the overall health of the U.S. economy as consumer spending accounts for nearly two-thirds of gross domestic product. Economists expect retail sales in January fell 0.5 percent, following a decline of 0.9 percent in December, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.