The Dow industrials and the S&P 500 fell on Friday, dropping for the fourth straight week, after Chevron Corp
But the technology-heavy Nasdaq eked out a gain in light volume after Goldman Sachs upgraded the U.S. hardware and software sectors.
The news on Chevron and the U.S. consumer highlighted concerns that an economic recovery and corporate profits in the second-quarter may be weak. Oil prices continued to skid as U.S. oil futures fell below $60 a barrel. The drop heightened concerns that demand remains sluggish and prompted investors to sell some shares of energy companies.
While there have been some positive developments, the overriding concern is that we're still in the middle of a recession, said Michael Cuggino, president and portfolio manager at Permanent Portfolio Funds in San Francisco.
We've got deflationary indicators, commodity prices are coming back down, demand hasn't picked up, inventories are being worked off, (and) unemployment continues to pick up.
The S&P 500 rallied as much as nearly 40 percent from a 12-year closing low in early March, but the broad-based index is now off 7.1 percent from a peak on June 12. Some analysts are starting to anticipate a prolonged pullback in stock prices, especially if corporations disappoint investors as the
earnings season unfolds.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 36.65 points, or 0.45 percent, to 8,146.52. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 3.55 points, or 0.40 percent, to 879.13. But the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 3.48 points, or 0.20 percent, to 1,756.03.
For the week, the Dow slipped 1.6 percent, the S&P 500 fell 1.9 percent and the Nasdaq lost 2.3 percent.
Weighing on investors, U.S. consumer sentiment soured in early July, slipping to its weakest since March, when confidence in the financial sector and economy were at a low ebb, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.
Energy shares were the biggest losers in the S&P 500, pressured both by a drop in crude oil prices and after Chevron said that any benefit from higher oil prices would be largely offset by a weaker dollar in the second quarter. Chevron's stock fell 2.7 percent to $61.40 and was among the Dow's top percentage decliners.
The S&P Energy Index <.GSPE> dropped 1.1 percent.
August crude futures fell 52 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $59.89 per barrel, falling for the seventh session in eight and marking the biggest weekly percentage loss since the week through January 30.
Goldman Sachs upgraded the U.S. hardware and software sectors to attractive from neutral, citing potential growth in demand from businesses.
Among a series of other calls, Goldman raised its price target on the stock of Apple Inc
Cleveland Rueckert, market strategist at Birinyi Associates in Stamford, Connecticut, said the technology sector could be set to advance if the market starts to reverse recent defensive moves into areas such as healthcare and consumer staples, especially if earnings season surprises on the upside.
It's really the growth stocks that are going to be in focus throughout the earnings season, he said. I would really be looking at technology. When you think about growth stocks, that's what pops into people's minds.
Volume was light on the New York Stock Exchange, with only about 922.1 million shares changing hands, well below last year's estimated daily average of 1.49 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 1.68 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 2.28 billion.
Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1525 to 1437 while on the Nasdaq, the opposite trend prevailed, with seven stocks rising for every six that fell.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)