S&P 500 Posts 0.4% Increase as Energy, Technology Lead to Upside While Materials Stocks Weigh

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up 0.4% this week as the energy, technology and financial sectors led to the upside but the advance was limited by declines in other sectors including materials.

The index ended the week at 2,803.69, up from last Friday’s closing level of 2,792.67. This comes a day after the S&P 500 closed out February with a monthly increase of 2.97%. It is now up nearly 12% for the year to date.

This week’s slight gain comes as investors have been hesitant to make major moves amid uncertainty about US-China trade policy as well as mixed readings on the economy. Economic data released this week showed Americans pulled back their spending sharply in December and US economic growth slowed to a 2.6% annual rate in Q4 versus a 3.4% rate in the previous quarter, but that was better than the 2.2% growth rate economists had expected.

The energy sector had the largest percentage gain of the week, up 1.1%, followed by a 1.0% increase in technology and a 0.8% advance in financials. Other sectors in the black for the week included communication services, health care, industrials and consumer discretionary.

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On the downside, meanwhile, the materials sector fell 1.6%, followed by a 1.2% drop in real estate. Two other sectors were in the red for the week: consumer staples and utilities.

The energy sector’s climb came despite crude-oil futures posting their first weekly decline in three weeks as production hit a fresh record in the US amid slowing manufacturing activity in the country. Still, investors in energy stocks were encouraged by a significant drop in weekly inventories and a decline in the oil rig count to a 10-month low.

Shares of Chevron (CVX) rose 2.2% this week as Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. initiated coverage of the stock with a buy investment rating and a price target of $133, which compares with a Friday closing price of $122.03.

The technology sector’s gainers included Intel (INTC), whose shares climbed 1.5% on the week as Deutsche Bank raised its price target on the company’s shares to $65 from $55 while reiterating its investment rating on the stock at outperform. The stock closed Friday at $53.30.

In the materials sector, the week’s decliners included Mosaic (MOS), whose shares fell 4.0% as the company reported fiscal Q4 results above analysts’ expectations but much of its guidance range for fiscal 2019 adjusted earnings per share missed the Street view.

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