US stocks close modestly lower, but end higher for the week

U.S. stocks closed modestly lower Friday, ending just short of another milestone for Wall Street.

The Nasdaq composite index narrowly missed its fourth record-high close this week, though all the major indexes still notched weekly gains.

Phone companies, banks and materials stocks were among the big decliners. Technology stocks gained the most, while health care and energy also bucked the broader market slide. Crude oil prices rose.

Investors continued to focus on company earnings reports as they mine for insight into the health of Corporate America. So far, earnings have been mostly exceeding Wall Street’s expectations. But an unimpressive report on economic growth in the first quarter may have given some traders pause Friday.

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“The market is worried that the second quarter perhaps will see continued weakness, and that’s part of the tug-of-war we’re seeing in the market,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “Are we going to see the economy snapping out of this weak patch?”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 4.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,384.20. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,940.51. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.33 points, or 0.02 percent, to 6,047.61.

Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index gave back 16.70 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,400.43. Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bond prices edged higher. The 10-year Treasury yield slipped to 2.28 percent from 2.30 percent late Thursday.

The market started the week off on a strong note, in part reflecting relief following the first round of France’s presidential election. Results suggest France may not try to break apart from the European Union.

Washington also helped move the market. On Wednesday, White House officials unveiled the broad outlines of a tax plan, stoking expectations of lower taxes, plus less regulation for businesses, policy proposals that have helped drive stocks higher since November.

On Friday, the major stock indexes were flat or down much of the day. Early on, investors weighed the government’s initial estimate of economic growth in the first three months of the year.

The Labor Department said that the U.S. economy turned in its weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter, reflecting a slowdown in consumer spending. Growth, as measured by gross domestic product, amounted to 0.7 percent in the first quarter. That was less than what economists were expecting and followed a gain of 2.1 percent in the final quarter of 2016.

Traders also continued to size up company earnings. A little more than half of the companies in the S&P 500 index have reported results for the January-March quarter. Some 55 percent of those turned in earnings and revenue that exceeded Wall Street’s…

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