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Stocks closed moderately lower Friday, a reasonable performance in light of strong gains for the Dow Jones industrial average and other major stock indexes Thursday.
Major averages pared losses after President Trump said a tax-cut package will be out next week. But even as indexes bounced, they remained uncertain in direction.
The Dow fell less than 0.2%, weighed down by weakness in Verizon (VZ) and General Electric (GE), which lost more than 2% each. GE reported earnings before the open, while Verizon extended losses after Thursday’s earnings report. The S&P 500 fell 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite eased 0.1%
Volume on the NYSE was higher than Thursday’s levels, while Nasdaq volume was lower, according to early figures.
The market’s tone was defensive as utilities outperformed. The Dow utility average jumped 0.7%.
Meanwhile, March existing-home sales were better than expected and hit their highest level since 2007. Homebuilders outperformed as a group Friday, rising about 0.8%, after a tough session Thursday that saw the group slump nearly 4%. Weakness in D.R. Horton (DHI), which reported earnings Thursday, contributed to the group’s decline.
Visa (V) erased an early 1.8% gain as Wall Street mulled the company’s second straight quarter of 20%-plus revenue growth. The Dow component is still showing supporting action at the 10-week moving average.
Leaderboard name Fortinet (FTNT) sidestepped the selling, rising 2.7% to 39.53, after BMO Capital Markets upgraded shares to outperform from market perform with a 46 price target. Earnings from the security software name are due Thursday after the close.
Pilgrim’s Pride (PPC) surged to the top of a long, cup-shaped consolidation, rising almost 10%. According to multiple published reports, Vertical Research upgraded shares to buy ahead of the company’s May 5 earnings report.