WASHINGTON: U.S. equity markets finished mixed on Friday as investors reacted to the “Triple Witch”, economic data and the announcement of a major company buyout. The Dow Jones Industrial Average managed a record closing high while finishing the week with its fourth straight gain. The S&P finished slightly higher while ending marginally higher for the week. The NASDAQ Composite settled the day and the week lower. In the cash market, the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average settled at 21384.28, up 24.38 or +0.11%. The benchmark S&P 500 Index finished at 2433.15, up 0.69 or +0.03% and the tech-based NASDAQ Composite ended at 6149.16, down 16.34 or -0.27%.
Amazon buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, or $42 a share was the major story of the day. This news drove Amazon higher by 2.4 percent and Whole Foods higher by 29 percent. However, other companies suffered because the deal could represent a major long-term disruption of the grocery business by Amazon. Shares of Kroger, Costco, Target, SuperValu, Sprouts Farmers Markets and Dow-component Wal-Mart all dropped following the news. The drop in grocery store stocks drove the consumer staples sector 1 percent lower, capping gains on the S&P. The “Triple Witch” went off without any major issues or increased volatility.
The news from the housing sector was largely disappointing. U.S. Building Permits came in at 1.17 million units, below the 1.25 million units estimate and 1.23 million units previous read. U.S. Housing Starts increased 1.09 million units, well below the 1.23 million units forecast and the previously reported 1.16 million units. Preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment fell to 94.5, down from 97.1 and below the estimate. Preliminary University of Michigan Inflation Expectations came in at 2.6%. The Labor Market Conditions Index was 2.3, down from the previous 3.7.