S&P 500 Little Changed as Disney Weighs, Small-Cap Shares Climb

  • Russell 2000 Index caps longest winning streak since March
  • Energy shares sink as crude oil trims its weekly gain

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed little changed for a fourth straight day amid declines in energy and Walt Disney Co. shares, while a gauge of small-cap stocks posted its longest winning streak in eight months.

In a shortened trading session following the Thanksgiving holiday, Disney was a drag after saying ESPN subscriptions declined 3 percent in its last fiscal year. Energy companies fell for a second day as oil retreated. The Russell 2000 Index of small caps climbed for a fifth day, its longest rally since March, amid gains in health-care and consumer staples companies.

The S&P 500 added 0.1 percent to 2,090.11 at 1 p.m. in New York, holding at its highest level in three weeks while rising less than 0.1 percent this week. The gauge hasn’t had two straight days of gains since Nov. 3. The Russell 2000 advanced 0.4 percent to a three-month high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 14.90 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,798.49, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.2 percent.

“We’ve actually had a pretty stable market for all the things that have been hitting at it,” said Tom Stringfellow, president and chief investment officer of San Antonio-based Frost Investment Advisors LLC, which manages about $11 billion. “The data that spooked the market over the last half a dozen weeks is behind us, and I think we’ve gotten past the shock of whether a rate hike is a certainty at this point.”

Investors weren’t fazed by a a 5.5 percent tumble in the Shanghai Composite Index on Friday, which ending three weeks of calm during which the government dialed back an unprecedented campaign to prop up share prices. News of a widening regulatory probe into China’s brokerage industry sparked the drop. The Securities Association of China banned brokerages from using derivatives to provide financing to clients for stock trading, a China Securities Regulatory Commission spokesman said at a briefing.

Narrow Trading

U.S. equities barely moved this week, following the S&P 500’s biggest weekly jump of the year. The index has rebounded 12 percent from its low in August as concern eased that China’s slowdown will hurt global growth.

The S&P 500 has gained in eight of the last nine weeks. The index closed within 2 percent of a record as policy makers have signaled the economy is strong enough to withstand the first interest-rate increase since 2006, and investors have become more comfortable with the notion that borrowing costs may soon be higher. Recent economic data have bolstered the case for the Federal Reserve to begin raising interest rates, and traders are pricing in a 72 percent chance of liftoff next month.

On one of the busiest shopping days of the year, a group of retail companies in the benchmark index slipped for the first time in five days while posting a second-straight weekly gain. U.S. e-commerce sales surged on Thanksgiving, suggesting customers may be choosing to stay away from stores. Urban Outfitters Inc. fell 2.7 percent, sinking for the first time in five sessions and snapping the retailer’s longest winning streak since August.

Retailers Slip

Gap Inc. declined 2.5 percent, also its first drop in five sessions during which it tacked on more than 9 percent. Signet Jewelers Ltd., GameStop Corp. and Best Buy Co. each lost at least 1.4 percent.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index decreased 0.5 percent Friday to 15.12. The measure of market turbulence known as the VIX declined 2.3 percent this week.

Seven of the S&P 500’s 10 main groups advanced today, with phone companies, financial and consumer staples shares performing the best. Energy and consumer discretionary shares fell the most. Oil pared its first weekly gain in a month on signs the global surplus will expand and as the dollar increased, reducing demand for commodities as an investment.

Health-care companies rose for a third day, bolstered by gains among biotechnology companies, with Illumina Inc. and Endo International Plc advancing more than 2.1 percent. Insurer Cigna Corp. and hospital operator Tenet Healthcare Corp. increased at least 0.8 percent.

Kroger Co. added 2.3 percent as the best performer among the consumer staples group, rising the most in seven weeks before its quarterly earnings report next week. Hormel Foods Corp. rallied for the sixth time in seven sessions, up 2 percent, while Tyson Foods Inc. gained 1.7 percent to stretch an advance to a fourth day.

Disney had its biggest decline in three months, down 3 percent, while weighing on the Dow and consumer discretionary group. Media companies in the benchmark index lost 1.1 percent, with Viacom Inc. and 21st Century Fox Inc. sinking at least 1.3 percent.

Southwestern Energy Co. and Consol Energy Inc. dropped more than 6.5 percent, the biggest declines among energy companies today amid the slump in crude.

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