Stocks edge upwards, but end week lower

Summertime settled into Wall Street yesterday as major stock indexes drifted slightly higher going into the weekend.

The listless day of trading left the stock market with a tiny loss for the week, its second this month.

A handful of corporate results drove trading in some big names. Warnings of weaker earnings pushed DuPont down, while stronger results pushed Nike up. But the overall market was essentially flat.

“The fact is, it’s the summer, and there isn’t much happening,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

That could change quickly. Turmoil in the Middle East could easily rattle US markets, especially if the fighting in Iraq drives oil prices too high, Mr Ablin said.

Rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia also remain a concern.

“The risk in the summer typically isn’t financial, it’s political,” he said. “This summer it’s geopolitical: Iraq and Ukraine.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 3.74 points, or 0.2%, to close at 1,960.96. The most widely used benchmark for stock funds lost 1.91 points for the week, a loss of 0.1%.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.71 points, less than 0.1%, to close at 16,851.84, while the Nasdaq composite rose 18.88 points, or 0.4%, to 4,397.93.

Many investors have been waiting for the market to take a break from its long climb. The S&P 500 has gained 5.8% in three months and reached its latest all-time high on June 20.

In yesterday’s trading, Micheals Companies made a minor gain in its return to the stock market.

Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group, two private equity firms, bought the operator of arts and crafts stores in 2006 and returned it to investors in a 472 million dollar initial public offering.

Much of the money raised in the IPO will be used to pay down debt. The company’s stock rose 2 cents to 17.02 dollars, just two cents above its IPO price.

DuPont dropped 2.26 dollars, or 3%, to 65.44 dollars. The company cut its profit forecast late on Thursday as a result of weaker sales of corn seeds.

Nike gained 82 cents, or 1%, to 77.68 dollars after reporting earnings late on Thursday that beat Wall Street’s expectations.

Stronger worldwide sales offset marketing costs for the World Cup football tournament. Nike provided the outfits for 10 national teams, including Team USA, for the World Cup in Brazil.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.53%. The price of oil fell 10 cents to settle at 105.74 dollars a barrel.

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