By Paul J. Davies and Gunjan Banerji
The S&P 500 is on track for its best winning streak since 2017, coming off a historically calm stretch for the stock market.
Investors drove the broad stock market index up about 0.6% Friday as they cheered good news on trade talks and the economy. The index is poised for a 0.7% gain for the week, its sixth consecutive week of gains.
White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow indicated progress toward a potential trade deal with China this week, while Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell expressed optimism over the economy. A better-than-expected corporate earnings season has also helped fend off fears of a recession.
Assuming the gains hold through Friday's close, the S&P 500's six-week winning streak would be its longest since November 2017 when the index rose for eight consecutive weeks. However, it comes in the midst of lull -- the index hasn't moved up or down more than 0.5% for nine consecutive trading days through Thursday, the longest streak since October 2018, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
The mixed signals of progress between the U.S. and China have left investors in a lurch. Although the market sees a resolution as more likely, global stock indexes have hardly budged this week -- reflecting the continued concern for regression in talks.
"I think the uncertainty is still elevated," said Justin Onuekwusi, head of retail multiasset funds at Legal & General Investment Management. "Just because you see an improvement doesn't mean it's gone away," he said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 152 points, or 0.6%. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.6%. Those indexes are also poised for slight weekly gains.
Fresh data early Friday showed U.S. retail sales rebounded in October, rising 0.3% and beating the estimates of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.
The latest retail sales figures, along with some strong corporate earnings reports, have bolstered confidence in the U.S. consumer, a key engine of domestic growth. Walmart on Thursday reported another increase in sales, extending its winning streak to five years.
"Ever so slowly...you get increasing confirmation that this slowdown has stabilized," said Joseph Amato, chief investment officer at Neuberger Berman. "All these things have come together to build a little bit more confidence in risk assets."
On Friday, shares of J.C. Penney rose 8.2% after the retailer boosted its financial outlook for this year and reported better-than-expected third-quarter results. Some strong retailer earnings have spurred optimism that a strong holiday season could be ahead for these companies.
Investors have also been encouraged by a rebound in government-bond yields, particularly in the U.S., and the growing positive gap between 10-year yields and two-year yields, which is a move away from the recessionary signals of earlier this year.
U.S. 10-year Treasury yields rose to 1.827% on Friday, according to Tradeweb, from 1.815% on Thursday. The lurch higher in government bond yields and strong economic data has led some investors to boost their outlooks for the rest of the year.
"Much of this rally over the past 30 days is the reassessment of the recession risk that was increasingly priced into the market," said Bob Browne, chief investment officer of Northern Trust Corp. "We would expect this momentum to continue going into the end of the year."
Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo finished the day 0.7% higher, although it was marginally down for the week, while in Europe the Stoxx 600 was up 0.6% on the day.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was flat Friday but ended the week down 4.8%, its worst week since early August, after antigovernment protests in the Chinese territory turned more violent with some of the worst clashes in six months of unrest. The Shanghai Composite Index ended the week down 2.5%.
There were conflicting signals for the oil markets: The International Energy Agency raised its 2020 oil-production growth forecast for producers outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. However, that came just hours after OPEC had cut its forecast for oil production output for non-cartel countries next year.
Caitlin Ostroff contributed to this article.
Write to Paul J. Davies at email@example.com and Gunjan Banerji at Gunjan.Banerji@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 15, 2019 13:21 ET (18:21 GMT)
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