US STOCKS-S&P 500 ends down with banks mostly lower

The S&P 500 ended slightly lower on Friday, with bank and financial shares mostly lower following quarterly reports that kicked off earnings season, but all three major U.S. stock indexes posted solid weekly gains. Offsetting some of the declines, UnitedHealth Group’s stock rallied following its stronger-than-expected results. Shares of JPMorgan Chase rose 0.6%, and Wells Fargo eased 0.3%, while the S&P 500 banks index fell 0.9%. Both major banks reported higher quarterly profits but said they had raised more money for expected losses from commercial real estate loans. The biggest drags on the benchmark index were the energy sector, down 2.8%, and financials, down 0.7%. UnitedHealth shares jumped 7.2% and helped the Dow to end higher.

Shares of other health insurers also advanced, with Humana ending up 2.5% and Cigna up 4.7%. “We’ve rallied significantly year to date, and that was in anticipation of better-than-expected earnings,” said Oliver Pursche, senior vice president and advisor for Wealthspire Advisors in Westport, Connecticut. “What we’re seeing now and are likely to continue to see through the end of the summer is a little bit of fatigue and lack of conviction that stocks can go materially higher.” The day’s quarterly reports unofficially started off second-quarter U.S. earnings season. Analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to have declined 8.1% in the quarter from a year ago, according to Refintiiv data, but most companies tend to beat expectations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 113.89 points, or 0.33%, to 34,509.03, the S&P 500 lost 4.62 points, or 0.10%, to 4,505.42 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 24.87 points, or 0.18%, to 14,113.70.

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