Mixed finish on Wall Street as worldwide rally takes a pause

In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, traders work on the floor during the United Wholesale Mortgage IPO, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Wall Street is tapping the brakes on its record-setting rally this week, as markets worldwide take a pause on Friday. (Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP) (New York Stock Exchange)

BEIJING – Wall Street tapped the brakes on its recent record-setting rally Friday with a mixed finish for the major stock indexes, though the S&P 500 still ended the week with its third weekly gain in four.

The benchmark index fell 0.3%, snapping a three-day winning streak, but notched a 1.9% gain for the week. The Nasdaq eked out another record high. So did the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies, which traders have been favoring amid expectations of stronger economic growth later this year.

The uneven finish for U.S. stock indexes followed a slide in global markets that began in Asia amid worries about resurgent coronavirus cases in China and weak economic data from Europe. In the United States, disappointing earnings reports from IBM and some other companies gave cover for investors to sell and book profits after big recent gains.

“The big picture is, it’s still a pretty friendly environment for stocks,” said David Lefkowitz, head of Americas equities at UBS Global Wealth Management. ”The pandemic will wind down, you’ll see a surge in corporate profits this year and the Fed made very clear they’re not going to take the punch bowl away anytime soon."

The S&P 500 slipped 11.60 points to 3,841.47. The index was coming off two straight all-time highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 179.03 points, or 0.6%, to 30,996.98. The Nasdaq inched up 12.15 points, or 0.1%, to 13,543.06. The Russell 2000 added 27.34 points, or 1.3%, to 2,168.76.

Investors weighed another batch of company earnings reports Friday. The big theme in the early part of this earnings season is that most companies are handily beating Wall Street's profits expectations for the last three months of 2020, with banks and some other industries leading the way. About 13% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported results so far.

“Earnings have been spectacular,” said David Lyon, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

Seagate Technology fell 4.7% despite joining that cavalcade of companies reporting better earnings than analysts expected. It also gave a forecast for revenue and profit in the current quarter that matched or topped Wall Street’s. Analysts said a lot of that optimism may have already been built into the stock’s price.