U.S. stocks closed lower Friday and booked weekly gains, but trading to end in mid August suggests that it may be tough sledding ahead for investors hoping to find further gains, with the S&P 500 within a striking distance of its record close, as stimulus talks are all but dead and data point to a slow and fitful economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic reports, including unemployment claims and retail spending, continue to suggest the economy is recovering, but at an unsteady pace as the virus fails to submit efforts to quash it throughout the country. A report on retail sales in July rose 1.2%, and increased by 1.9% once stripping out for auto and gas. Meanwhile, second-quarter productivity jumped 7.3%, while second-quarter unit labor costs surged by 12.2%. Separately, a reading on industrial production rose 3% in July for the third straight monthly gain after sharp declines in March and April, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. Investors continued to wait for developments on a coronavirus relief package from Congress but lawmakers have broken for recess until Labor Day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) closed up 34 points, or 0.1%, at 27,931 and booked a weekly gain of 1.8%, while the S&P 500 index (S&P:SPX) finished the day nearly unchanged at 3,372 but notched a weekly gain of 0.6%, ending Friday's trade about 14 points from a record close. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index (AMERICAN:COMP) closed 0.2% lower at 11,019 and logged a weekly gain of less than 0.1%. Tech stocks have been at the vanguard of the current recovery for stocks but have seen gains peter out in recent trade. Meanwhile, on U.S.-China trade talks, both sides have canceled plans for a virtual weekend meeting to assess their so-called phase one trade deal as it hits its six-month mark.
Aug. 14, 2020, 4:12 p.m. EDT