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Stock market today: Wall Street limps toward its longest weekly losing streak since September

Apr 18, 2024, 11:54 PM | Updated: Apr 19, 2024, 7:06 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street’s latest losing week looks to be coming to a relatively quiet close on Friday. U.S. stocks are drifting after oil prices briefly surged overnight on worries about fighting in the Middle East.

The S&P 500 was 0.1% higher in early trading and on track for its third straight losing week. That would be its longest such streak since September, before it broke out into a record-setting romp.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 176 points, or 0.5%, as of 9:45 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.2%.

In the oil market, a barrel of Brent crude was edging up by 0.1% at $87.18 after briefly leaping above $90 overnight. Iranian troops fired air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site during an apparent Israeli drone attack, raising worries in the market. But crude prices erased their big gains as traders questioned how Iran would respond.

On Wall Street, Netflix sank 7.7% despite reporting stronger profits for the latest quarter than expected. Analysts called it a mostly solid quarter, but the streaming giant disappointed some investors by saying it will stop giving updates on its subscriber numbers every three months, beginning next year.

Procter & Gamble also weighed on the market after the consumer-products giant reported lower revenue for its latest quarter than analysts expected. Sales trends for its baby care products weakened following hikes to their prices and sank for its super-premium SK-II skincare brand, diluting gains made elsewhere.

The company behind Pampers, Oral-B and other brands reported stronger profit for its fiscal third quarter than analysts expected and raised its forecast for earnings in the fiscal year. But it did not raise its forecast for sales. Its stock fell 1.7%

Helping to limit the market’s losses was American Express, which rose 3.4%. It reported stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. Fifth Third Bancorp rose 4% after it likewise topped expectations.

The pressure is even higher than usual on companies to meet forecasts for their quarterly results. That’s because the other lever that helps set stock prices, interest rates, looks unlikely to offer much help in the near term.

Top Fed officials recently said they could hold interest rates at their high level for a while. That’s a letdown for traders after the Fed had signaled earlier that three cuts to interest rates could be possible this year.

Lower rates would juice the economy and financial markets, and they earlier appeared to be on the horizon after inflation cooled sharply last year. But a string of reports this year showing inflation remains hotter than expected has raised worries about stalled progress.

Fed officials are adamant that they want to see additional proof inflation is heading down toward their 2% target before lowering the Fed’s main interest rate, which is at its highest level since 2001. High rates hurt prices for investments and raise the risk of a recession.

Traders are now forecasting just one or two cuts to rates this year, according to data from CME Group, down from expectations for six or more at the start of the year.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury eased to 4.61% from 4.64% late Thursday to trim its gain for the week.

In markets abroad, stock indexes were mixed in Europe after falling more sharply in Asia.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 2.7%. A report said the the country’s inflation rate slowed in March, and investors are waiting for the Bank of Japan’s next move after it raised its benchmark interest rate last month for the first time in 17 years.

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AP Writers Matt Ott and Zimo Zhong contributed.

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Stock market today: Wall Street limps toward its longest weekly losing streak since September