U.S. stocks fluctuated, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index on track for its worst month since May 2012, as equities continued to swing amid this week’s turbulent trading and shifting investor sentiment.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. lost 1.8 percent, leading consumer staples lower amid a weaker consumer confidence reading. Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson slumped at least 1.2 percent to weigh on the health-care group. Google Inc. slid 1.5 percent. Energy companies advanced as oil added to yesterday’s best rally in six years, with Chevron Corp. rising 4 percent. Freeport-McMoRan Inc. gained 4 percent after Carl Icahn took a stake in the company.
The S&P 500 slipped 0.1 percent to 1,985.48 at 12:16 p.m. in New York, after earlier falling as much as 0.5 percent before erasing its decline amid another bout of volatility. The gauge Thursday posted its best back-to-back advance since March 2009. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 39.62 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,615.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index was little changed.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index rose 2.8 percent to 26.82 Friday, rising for the first time in four sessions. The measure of market turbulence known as the VIX fell 36 percent in the prior three days, after a record six-day jump sent the gauge to its highest level since October 2011.
The S&P 500 yesterday capped its best two-day rally since the beginning of the bull market in 2009, helped by data showing stronger-than-expected U.S. economic growth. The Dow had its strongest back-to-back advance since December 2008. Global equities had lost as much as $ 8.4 trillion in value after China’s unexpected devaluation of the yuan earlier this month spurred concern the world’s second-biggest economy was on the brink of a deeper slowdown. The S&P 500 closed Thursday down 5.5 percent in August.
U.S. data today showed consumer spending climbed in July as incomes grew, showing the biggest part of the U.S. economy was off to a good start to the quarter. The 0.3 percent advance matched the prior month’s gain, according to the Commerce Department. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 0.4 percent increase. Wages rose by the most this year, and the report showed inflation remained tame.
A separate report showed consumer confidence declined in August to a three-month low as recent stock-market turbulence weighed on Americans’ outlook for the economy in the coming year.