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S&P 500 inches higher with stocks set for a losing week

S&P 500 inches higher with stocks set for a losing week

20 Aug 2021

The S&P 500 inched higher Friday as the markets close out a losing week driven by fears of the Federal Reserve pulling back its stimulus.

The broad index added 0.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 30 points. The Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.4%.

All three major stock indexes are on track to close the week lower. The S&P 500 is down 1.2% for the week, while the Dow is off 1.6% and the Nasdaq Composite is 1.5% lower.

Minutes from the Fed’s July meeting released this week showed the central bank is willing to start reducing its monthly asset purchases this year. Investors sold equities and commodities this week and bought bonds on fears the move by the Fed may upend a global economy already under stress by the delta variant.

This week, WTI crude oil has tumbled roughly 8% and copper has lost about 7% on the fears, taking energy and materials stocks with them. The 10-year Treasury yield was at 1.237% on Friday morning, down from 1.78% in late March.

“With Fed tapering coming while delta variant keeps spreading, the transition away from liquidity/policy regime to more mid-cycle markets means we may experience a bumpier ride ahead,” Barclays equity strategists said in a note. “Market narrative may thus turn more cautious, as concerns about peaking growth rates, Delta variant and policy mistake may prove headwinds, at a time where seasonality and technicals are unfavourable.”

Tesla shares gained after Elon Musk’s electric car maker had an AI day, where it unveiled a new custom chip and plans to build a humanoid robot. Tesla shares are off 6% this week as investors worry about slowing growth in one of its key markets China.

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—CNBC’s Pippa Stevens contributed reporting.