S&P 500 ends down slightly; bank shares mostly lower after results


By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 ended down slightly on Friday but posted a solid weekly gain, with bank and financial shares mostly lower on the day following quarterly reports that kicked off earnings season, while UnitedHealth Group’s stock rallied.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo were little changed. Both reported higher quarterly profits, but said they have set aside more money for expected losses from commercial real estate loans. The S&P 500 banks index was down.

UnitedHealth Group shares jumped, while the healthcare sector was the biggest positive in the S&P 500. Shares of Humana and Cigna also were higher.

UnitedHealth’s quarterly profit beat analysts’ expectations, thanks to lower-than-feared expenses.

“We’ve rallied significantly year to date, and that was in anticipation of better-than-expected earnings,” said Oliver Pursche, senior vice president and advisor for Wealthspire Advisors in Westport, Connecticut.

“What we’re seeing now and are likely to continue to see through the end of the summer is a little bit of fatigue and lack of conviction that stocks can go materially higher.”

The day’s quarterly reports unofficially started off the second-quarter U.S. earnings season. Analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to have declined 8.1% in the quarter from a year ago, according to Refintiiv data.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 lost 3.64 points, or 0.08%, to end at 4,506.40 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 24.77 points, or 0.18%, to 14,113.80. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 118.54 points, or 0.34%, to 34,513.68.

Indexes posted gains for the week, and the S&P 500 remains up roughly 17% year to date.

Among other financial company reports, Citigroup shares fell after the lender’s quarterly profit tumbled, while BlackRock was down after it posted a decline in quarterly revenue.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; additional reporting by Johann M Cherian and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sriraj Kalluvila, Maju Samuel, Vinay Dwivedi and David Gregorio)

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