Stocks were mostly higher on Friday, Sept. 15, even as geopolitical worries spiked following another missile launch from North Korea and a terrorist attack in London.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.15%, after hitting a new intraday record earlier of 22,252. Apple Inc. (AAPL) , Boeing Co. (BA) and Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT) were the top performers on the Dow on Friday. The S&P 500 was flat, and the Nasdaq added 0.3%.
An explosion on a London Underground train Friday morning was declared a terrorist incident by British police. At least 23 people have been injured when a possible explosion took place on the District Line at the Parsons Green stop in West London. Reports indicated the explosion was caused by a homemade bomb, placed into a bucket.
In a statement following the incident, London Mayor Sadiq Kahn said the city would "never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism." He added, "I urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant."
North Korea again ignored international calls to cease its ballistic tests after launching a missile that flew over Japan for the second time in a month. The overnight launch flew more than 3,700 kilometers, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, and landed in the sea around 2,000 kilometers east of the island of Hokaido.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that "continued provocations only deepen North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation", and urged tougher sanctions. The U.N. Security Council is slated to meet later today to discuss the issue. The Council on Monday had voted for new sanctions against North Korea.
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Crude oil prices stabilized on Friday after settling at their highest level in more than six weeks a day earlier. This week's rally kicked off on signs of reduced global production. Global oil supplies have hit a snag in recent weeks as Hurricane Harvey limited output in the U.S. and declining activity in the Middle East helped the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries keep to a previous deal to limit production.
The weekly Baker-Hughes rig count will be released as normal at 1 p.m. ET. Baker Hughes reported a total 944 active rigs in the U.S. in the week ended Sept. 8.
West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.1% at $49.83 a barrel on Friday.
U.S. retail sales fell in August as weaker auto sales weighed on the headline number. Retail sales fell by 0.2%, according to the Commerce Department, though rose by 0.2% when excluding autos. Excluding autos and gas, retail sales fell by 0.4%. Motor vehicle sales slumped 1.6% in August, its second-worst drop of the year, as Harvey likely dampened purchasing activity.
"In the first of many indicators this fall to be impacted by hurricanes, the August retail sales report showed the surge in gasoline sales was erased by the lost business from other categories in August," said Wells Fargo economists in a note. "In September, building supply stores will likely see much stronger sales as Houston and the entire state of Florida rebuild and recover from major back-to-back storms."
The fallout from Harvey also impacted industrial production. The measure unexpectedly declined in August, the first drop since January. The Federal Reserve reported a 0.9% dip last month to a reading of 104.7. Economists anticipated a 0.1% increase after rising by 0.4% in July. Capacity utilization fell to 76.1% from 76.9%.
Business conditions in the New York region dipped in September, though at a narrower pace than expected. The Empire State Survey fell by 0.8 points to 24.4. Economists expected a sharper decline to 19.
Consumer sentiment eased in September after hitting its highest level since January in August. The measure fell to 95.3 in September, according to the University of Michigan, a better reading than an expected 95.1.
Business inventories rose by 0.2% in July to $1,873.9 billion, the Census Bureau reported, calming down after a 0.5% increase in June. July's increase was as expected.
Shares of Oracle Corp. (ORCL) fell 6.5% on Friday after the computer software giant signaled slower growth in its cloud business. The stock initially rose after Oracle reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue in its fiscal first quarter on Thursday but then declined after the company said it expected total cloud revenue to increase 39% to 43% in the fiscal second quarter, down from last quarter's growth of 51.4%.
The airline sector was under pressure on Friday after JPMorgan downgraded American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) and United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL) to neutral on weaker pricing and higher fuel expenses. Analysts are uncertain the two airlines can meet fourth-quarter estimates. American declined 0.5% while United slid 2.7%.
Trading on Friday could be volatile during the quadruple-witching session, one of four days of the year in which futures and options contracts expire at once.
Updated from 10:08 a.m. ET, Sept. 15.
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