S&P 500, Nasdaq End Week with Record Highs

Right in line with the opening of superhero film “Avengers: Endgame,” it was the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite combining forces to end the trading week with record highs as first-quarter GDP avenged its fourth-quarter 2.2 percent showing in 2018.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5 percent to 2,939.88 to reach an all-time closing high. In the meantime, the Nasdaq Composite ended the day up 0.3 percent at 8,146.40.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average went  81.25 points higher to 26,543.33 to close just 1.5 percent below its own all-time high.

The markets were boosted by better-than-expected first-quarter GDP numbers published by the Commerce Department. Despite a number of roadblocks heading into 2019 after a rough fourth-quarter market showing to end 2018, the U.S. economy rebounded in the first quarter this year, beating analysts’ expectations of 2.5 percent growth with a 3.2 percent growth number.

The GDP figure represents the strongest rate of growth for the first quarter in four years and matches the 3.2 percent growth experienced a year ago.

“The economic expansion will set new records for longevity in July and it looks like there is no stopping this economy,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG, in a note. “We had all but given up on the first quarter with the Federal government shutdown ending January 25, frigid winter weather conditions shutting down manufacturing production, and the fears of a world growth slowdown.”

“So far the fears are unfounded,” Rupkey said.

Further gains were tamped down by disappointing first-quarter results from the likes of Exxon and Intel. Both combined for a 12 percent decline with a drop in earnings as well as weaker guidance for the rest of the year.

“The burden of proof is fairly high,” said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “Investors’ appetite for companies that either disappoint or offer lower guidance on a go-forward basis tends to be met with a pretty sharp reaction.”

Amazon moved higher on Friday after the online retail giant topped earning expectations after the closing bell on Thursday. Shares of Amazon were up as much as 1 percent in the early trading session before closing up 2.54 percent as Wall Street digested the results, noting that earnings are trending towards less growth, but wider profit margins as it revamps its current operations and services.

“I don’t think it’s a time to be making significant additions to equities, but at the same time there is not a lot of downside risk,” said Michael Geraghty, equity strategist at Cornerstone Capital Grou. “Net net, we’re advising our clients to stick with their equity positions and, if stock prices decline from current levels, that may be a buying opportunity.”

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