Stocks in the U.S finished narrowly mixed in lacklustre trading Friday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq snapping their five-day winning streak, after a pair of weaker-than-expected economic reports discouraged investors.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 11.75 points to close at 14,712.55. The S&P500 erased 2.92 points to end at 1,582.24 whilst the Nasdaq slid 10.72 points to finish at 3,279.26.
On the economic front, the Department of Commerce said first quarter gross domestic product increased just 2.5 percent lower than expectations for at least 3.0 percent.
So far, just about 50 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported results, with 69 percent of firms topping expectations and 20 percent missing estimates, according to the latest data from Thomson Reuters. If all remaining companies report earnings in line with estimates, earnings will be up 3.8 percent from last year's first quarter.
Meanwhile, only 42 percent of companies have beaten their revenue forecasts. On average, sales have come in 2 percent below estimates.
In commodity markets, world crude oil prices eased modestly on Friday after US economic growth data fell short of economist forecasts. Brent crude fell by US25c or 0.2percent to US$103.16 and US Nymex crude fell by US64c or 0.7 percent to US$93.00 a barrel.
Base metal prices fell between 1.4-3.5 percent on the London Metals Exchange on Friday with nickel faring best and aluminium falling the most. Over the week metals rose by up to 0.9 percent but aluminium fell by 0.8 percent. The gold price eased on Friday as investors booked profits. The Comex June futures price was down by US$8.40 an ounce or 0.6 percent to US$1,484.80 per ounce. Gold rose 6.4 percent over the week after falling 7.0 percent the previous week. The iron ore price fell by US50c on Friday to US$134.10 a tonne and fell by $3.90 over the week.
The Euro eased from highs near US$1.3040 to around US$1.2990 before ending U.S. trade near US$1.3030. The Aussie dollar fell from highs near US103.20c to US102.65c and ended U.S. trade near US102.75c. At 7am AEST the currency was trading at $US1.0282.
In the week ahead, it will be particularly busy on the global economic and corporate data front, including further U.S. earnings results, further Australian mining production reports and bank results, and monetary policy meetings for both the Fed and ECB.
Wednesday is the first of the month and that means global PMIs. Australia, China, the UK and U.S. will report manufacturing PMIs on Wednesday and service sector PMIs on Friday. The eurozone manufacturing PMI is due on Thursday. Japan will release its manufacturing PMI on Tuesday along with industrial production, retail sales and employment numbers.
Aside from PMIs, tonight in the U.S. sees pending home sales and personal spending and income, Tuesday its consumer confidence, the Chicago PMI and the Case-Shiller house price index. Wednesday brings vehicle sales, construction spending, the ADP private sector unemployment number and a Fed monetary policy statement, which will likely be little changed from last month, which was little changed from the month before.
On Thursday it�s the trade balance and quarterly productivity, while Friday sees factory orders along with the all-important non-farm payrolls number.
Australia�s economic week begins tomorrow with private sector credit. Wednesday brings new home sales and the RP Data-Rismark house price index, while Thursday it�s building approvals and on Friday it�s the March quarter PPI as well as the PMIs on Wednesday and Friday.
In equities, it�s a busy week for resources with quarterly productions reports, with highlights including Origin Energy (ORG) and Paladin Energy (PDN).
Tomorrow ANZ Bank (ANZ) will release its half-year earnings report and Westpac (WBC) will do likewise on Friday. Macquarie Group (MQG) will release its full-year result on Friday.