9-22-17 2:10 PM EDT | Email Article

By Anora Mahmudova, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica

Apple slips, on track for worst week ahead of an iPhone launch

U.S. stocks tilted slightly lower on Friday, with the main benchmark index set to end the week flat as investors shrugged off the latest bout of geopolitical uncertainty.

The S&P 500 is down about 2 points, or less than 0.1%, to 2,498. Of the 11 main sectors, seven were trading lower.

The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 4 points, or less than 0.1%, to 6,418. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 25 points to 22,336, a drop of 0.1%.

The Russell 2000 index of small stocks was a bright spot on Wall Street Friday. The index was up 0.4% to 1,450, trading a few points below its intraday all-time high set in late July.

Some analysts said the stock market has become desensitized to threats from North Korea.

"As long as there is no military action from the either side, markets will continue to ignore the threats from North Korea," said Wouter Sturkenboom, senior investment strategist at Russell Investments.

North Korea returned to the forefront after the country's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said late Thursday at a United Nations meeting that his country might consider a nuclear bomb of "unprecedented scale" in the Pacific.

Ri's comments came shortly after North Korea President Kim Jong Un released a statement threatening to make President Donald Trump "pay dearly" for his fiery speech to the U.N. on Tuesday, calling the U.S. leader a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard." (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/kim-jong-un-calls-trump-mentally-deranged-us-dotard-setting-off-scramble-for-dictionaries-2017-09-21)

The statements came after Trump at a U.N. speech on Tuesday pledged to "totally destroy" North Korea if Pyongyang provoked the U.S. or its allies. Trump on Thursday ordered expanded sanctions against North Korea, targeting individuals or companies trading with the country.

"The market has looked at this ongoing kerfuffle and said, 'meh.' Right now there are just words being thrown back and forth, and it won't care until that changes or escalates," said Malcolm Polley, president and chief investment officer of Stewart Capital Advisors. "So long as rates stay low there's no real catalyst to drive the market down, even though no place in it looks particularly cheap and we think the risk premium being assigned to stocks is too low."

Equities have been broadly higher for an extended period. Major U.S. indexes have been trading near records, and with a modest dip on Thursday, the Dow ended a nine-day streak of gains (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/thatll-do-dow-the-averages-9-day-rally-is-overbut-still-historic-2017-09-21). Many investors could be looking for a reason to take profits, particularly with equity prices seen as stretched.

For the week, the Dow is up 0.3%, while the S&P 500 is flat. The Nasdaq is down 0.5%.

In the latest economic data, a read on manufacturing inched higher in September, while a read on the services sector was down slightly.

Asia markets closed mostly lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-rattled-by-latest-north-korean-nuclear-threat-2017-09-21) after the aggression from North Korea, while European wavered between small gains and losses (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-shaken-by-north-korea-but-strong-pmis-keep-losses-in-check-2017-09-22).

Gold prices were up 0.3%, while the yen rallied against the dollar . The greenback bought Yen112.00, down from Yen112.48 late Thursday in New York.

The ICE Dollar Index dropped 0.3% to 912.011, set to erase its weekly gain. The dollar gauge on Wednesday jumped the most since January, according to FactSet data, after the Federal Reserve hinted interest rates will rise again in December.

Oil prices were little changed after an OPEC-led meeting of major producers to discuss compliance with an agreement to cut output.

Read:Longtime laggers, an 'important turn is happening' in energy stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/longtime-laggers-an-important-turn-is-happening-in-energy-stocks-2017-09-20)

Fed speakers: With the new signals from the central banks, traders are eager to hear from Fed speakers, including Kansas City President Esther George, who will deliver a keynote at an oil conference in Oklahoma City. Dallas Fed boss Robert Kaplan will participate in a Q&A at the same conference at 1:30 p.m.

Stock movers:Sprint Corp. (S) and T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS) both rallied following a report (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sprint-t-mobile-us-shares-jump-premarket-on-report-companies-are-close-to-merger-terms-2017-09-22) that the companies are close to agreeing on tentative terms on a merger agreement. Sprint rose 4.6% while T-Mobile was up 0.5%.

CarMax Inc.(KMX) shares rose 4.7% after quarterly earnings and revenue beat Wall Street expectations.

Shares of DaVita Inc.(DVA) dropped 6.7% after a Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation (SIRF) report questioned the company's revenue sources.

Equifax Inc.(EFX) shares jumped 4% on Friday and on track to book a 10% weekly gain. Equifax shares plunged more than 30% in the wake of data breach that compromised sensitive information of 143 million Americans.

Shares of Versartis Inc.(VSAR) sank 86% to $3.00 after the biopharmaceutical company late Thursday said its drug somavaratan failed to meet its primary endpoint in a phase 3 trial (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/versartis-shares-halted-2017-09-21).

Apple Inc.(AAPL) shares were down 1.7%. The stock is on track for the worst week ahead of an iPhone launch (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-stock-on-track-for-worst-week-ahead-of-an-iphone-launch-2017-09-21) since the original iPhone was released back in 2007. The lackluster performance comes after less-than-stellar reviews on its new slate of product offerings.

The Wall Street Journal reported (https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-considers-dropping-federal-oversight-of-aig-1506027092)that U.S. officials were considering whether to remove federal oversight of American International Group (AIG), though no decision had yet been made. Shares of AIG rose 0.7%.

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 22, 2017 14:10 ET (18:10 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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