Wall St set for weekly loss as traders cash in

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - United States (US) stocks dipped on Friday, putting the Dow and the S&P 500 on pace for their first negative week in five ahead of a data-packed week and the conclusion of a strong July.

With three trading days left in the month, the Dow and the S&P 500 are set to post their best month since January. The Nasdaq's advance makes July so far the best month in a year and a half.

Seven of the 10 S&P 500 industry sectors declined and 21 of the 30 Dow components were also down.

Mr Drew Nordlicht, managing director and partner at HighTower San Diego in San Diego, pointed to the broad downturn as evidence of profit-taking.

"Traders are booking in profits, knowing that next week you're going to have some significant data that could dictate a large move in all asset prices to the upside or downside," he said.

"Next week couldn't be a more pivotal, economically-packed week."

The busy calendar includes the advanced GDP report for the second quarter, the July non-farm payrolls report and a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

Investors will scrutinize the FOMC policy statement for any additional clues about the Federal Reserve's intended timeline for scaling back its massive monetary stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 51.15 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 15,504.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 4.04 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 1,686.21, and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.26 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 3,603.93.

Expedia ranked among the most active names traded on the Nasdaq. Shares of the online travel agency plunged 25.5 per cent to $48.41 a day after it reported a quarterly profit far short of market estimates.

Starbucks gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500 a day after the world's biggest coffee chain reported a bigger-than-expected jump in quarterly profit. Shares of the company rose 6.7 per cent to $72.76 Halfway through earnings season, 67.6 per cent of S&P 500 companies have beaten analysts' expectations - in line with the 67 per cent average beat in the last four quarters.

About 56 per cent of the companies have beaten revenue expectations, more than the 48 per cent of revenue beats in the past four earnings seasons, but below the historical average.

The S&P 500 is facing resistance at the 1,700 level.

For the week, the S&P 500 is down about 0.36 per cent. But the benchmark index is up 5 per cent so far in July, its best month since January.

The Dow is down about 0.26 per cent for the week. For July, the Dow is up 4 per cent.

The Nasdaq is up 5.9 per cent in July so far, its best monthly gain in a year and half. For the week, the Nasdaq is up about 0.47 per cent.

Zynga Inc shares plunged 14.9 per cent to $2.98 a day after the company announced it will largely abandon plans for real-money gaming in the United States.

Amazon shares turned higher despite a forecast that disappointed on income and revenue. The stock rose 3 per cent to $312.62, a rebound from a session low at $295.55. Earlier on Friday, Amazon's stock hit a 52-week high of $313.62. UBS raised its price target on the stock to $305 from $275.

Vivendi plans to sell the bulk of its stake in Activision Blizzard Inc to the video game maker and its management for US$8.2 billion (S$10.4 billion) in the French conglomerate's second blockbuster deal in a week. Activision shares surged 14.5 per cent to $17.38.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.