Stocks mostly inched higher on Friday as rising energy shares offset early weakness, though the S&P 500 remained on track to break a five-week streak of gains.
Equities fell early after data showed a drop in single-family home sales, but a rebound in energy and material shares from their slump in the previous session, helped Wall Street overcome those losses. A rise in crude oil prices gave upside support to the energy sector.
The benchmark S&P 500 is down 1.2 percent for the week, though it remains up 10.3 percent for the year and up more than 25 percent from its October closing low.
While the swiftness of those gains have some investors waiting for further declines, many analysts do not see this week as the start of a deeper pullback. Instead, some are looking for a boost next week from quarter-end window dressing, when fund managers drop poor-performing stocks and chase the better-performing ones.
Overall, people feel good about stocks, so people want to jump in and buy on dips like we saw yesterday, said Michael Matousek, senior trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc, which manages about $3 billion in San Antonio. They're afraid of missing the boat so they focus on things that have lagged.
An S&P index of energy shares <.GSPE> rose 1 percent while the S&P materials index <.GSPM> added 0.9 percent. Alcoa Inc
Another catalyst for Friday's rebound in basic resources stocks was news that the world's top copper producer, Chile's Codelco, had reported a surge in profits and an increase in production. In Thursday's decline, both the energy and materials sector indexes fell more than 1.5 percent.
Crude oil futures prices rose 1.8 percent on news that tightening Western sanctions had caused Iranian oil exports to fall significantly this month. Chevron Corp
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 23.43 points, or 0.18 percent, at 13,069.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 1.97 points, or 0.14 percent, at 1,394.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 6.16 points, or 0.20 percent, at 3,057.16.
The S&P 500 was on track for its fourth straight decline, the longest losing streak in four months.
Home sales fell 1.6 percent in February, Commerce Department data showed, although a climb in prices kept optimism intact that the industry may have hit its bottom.
We're continuing to get mixed messages out of the housing market, said Rob Morgan, chief investment strategist at Fulcrum Securities in Philadelphia. Even though these numbers are in line, they're well short of what a healthy market would be.
Fellow homebuilder Beazer Homes
Job search website Monster Worldwide Inc
Darden Restaurants Inc
(Editing by Jan Paschal)