The Dow Jones Industrial Average extended its record-breaking streak on Friday in a nail-biting end to the day. The blue-chip index turned positive with just seconds to go after spending most of the day sharply lower.
The Dow was up 0.05%. The S&P 500 added 0.15%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.17%.
The Dow began its long stretch of records 11 sessions earlier on optimism over a forthcoming tax plan from Donald Trump, reforms that he again touted on Friday. During his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump promised a tax code that would be fairer to individuals and business, though again failed to give specifics. Trump also promised that he would "massively lower taxes for the middle class."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked tax plans on Thursday, noting that the administration is working to deliver "very significant" tax reform before the August recess in Congress. Mnuchin told CNBC that the plan will focus "on a middle income tax cut and a simplification for business."
However, with few developments on that front, the record rally has taken on a life of its own, benefiting from individual stock moves, such as a better-than-expected quarter from Walmart(WMT) - Get Report and reports DuPont(DD) - Get Report could clear regulatory hurdles in its merger with Dow Chemical(DOW) - Get Report .
European markets slumped on Friday, pressured by selloffs in shares of BASF (BASFY) and Royal Bankof Scotland(RBS) - Get Report . Chemicals company BASF fell despite better-than-expected earnings over its fourth quarter. The company said it is "cautiously optimistic for 2017" and anticipates a "slight" increase in earnings. U.S.-traded shares of RBS fell 3% in premarket trading after the bank posted an annual loss three times the size of a year earlier.
High demand in the housing market boosted new home sales at the beginning of the year. Sales of new homes rose by 3.7% in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 555,000, according to the Commerce Department. The increase was slightly weaker than an expected pace of 586,000. Median sales prices fell by 1% from December, though were up 7% from a year earlier.
A final estimate on consumer sentiment in February was higher than expected. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index came in at 96.3 this month, higher than a target of 96.
Crude oil prices declined on Friday afternoon after a weekly reading on oil-drilling activity showed an increase. The number of oil rigs drilling for crude rose by 5 to 602, according to Baker Hughes data.
J.C. Penney(JCP) - Get Report slid 5% after falling short of profit and sales estimates over its fourth quarter. Adjusted earnings of 64 cents a share missed consensus of 81 cents a share, while revenue of $3.96 billion came in short of an expected $3.983 billion. The department store chain said it expects 2017 same-store sales to fall 1% or rise 1%, below estimates of 1.2% growth. J.C. Penney also announced plans to shutter as many as 140 stores over the next few months and will offer voluntary early retirement to around 6,000 workers.
Nordstrom(JWN) - Get Report jumped 5% after topping quarterly profit estimates and reporting on sales growth. The department store chain earned $1.27 a share over its fourth quarter, 12 cents higher than estimates, while revenue climbed 3.1% to $4.32 billion. Nordstrom saw the bulk of growth at its discount stores. For fiscal 2017, the company anticipates sales growth of 3% to 4%, though comparable sales are expected to come in flat.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise(HPE) - Get Report reported a mixed first quarter. Earnings of 45 cents a share nudged past consensus by a penny. Revenue of $11.4 billion fell short of estimates by $670 million. However, shares slumped 6% after the tech company cut its full-year earnings guidance by 12 cents a share. The adjustment was tied to significant headwinds from foreign exchange, higher commodity pricing, and near-term execution issues, the company said.
HP Enterprise is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio.
"Bottom line: HPE's restructuring and refocusing, in addition to its M&A activity, will help drive improved fundamentals beyond 2017, and while we continue to note that sentiment remains foggy until a clearer picture of stand-alone HPE emerges post spin- offs, therein lies the opportunity," wrote Cramer and the AAP team. "These numbers tonight do not change our view that (CEO Meg) Whitman will position the company, however she has to, in order to drive value for shareholders.
Gap(GPS) - Get Report rose 3% after the retailer reporting fourth-quarter earnings and sales above analysts' estimates. The owner of Banana Republic and Old Navy posted adjusted earnings of 51 cents a share, topping forecasts by 1 cent. Revenue was $4.43 billion, higher than analysts' expectations of $4.41 billion. Comparable-store sales increased 2% during the quarter, matching analysts' projections.
Foot Locker(FL) - Get Report climbed 9% following a better-than-expected fourth quarter. The shoe retailer reported same-store sales growth of 5%, higher than an estimated increase of 4.6%. Profit of $1.42 a share rose from $1.14 a year earlier. Adjusted earnings of $1.37 a share exceeded estimates by a nickel. Revenue rose 5.3% to $2.11 billion, matching consensus.