Stocks Recover from Early Plunge Friday

U.S. stocks fell on Friday, retreating from record levels, as investors reassessed the outlook for President Joe Biden’s ambitious COVID stimulus plan.

The Dow Jones Industrials decreased 160.57 points to 31,015.44.

The S&P 500 slid 12.18 points to 3,840.89.

The NASDAQ retreated 24.82 points from Thursday’s all-time high to 13,503.50, supported by gains in Microsoft and Facebook.

Despite Friday’s weakness, major averages are on pace to post a winning week. The S&P 500 is up 2.2% for the week so far. The Dow is up 0.6% and the NASDAQ is up 3.8%.

Dow-component IBM fell more than 9% after the company reported fourth-quarter sales below where analysts were expecting. Revenue fell 6% on an annualized basis, the fourth consecutive quarter of declines. Intel shares retreated 7% following a 6% pop on Thursday after it released better-than-expected earnings.

Hopes for a robust earnings season from the country’s largest communications and tech companies have kept the mega-cap stocks trending upward, and the major indexes near records, during the holiday-shortened week.

Microsoft rose another 2% Friday, bringing its weekly gains to 8%. Facebook moved ahead 15.5% and Apple rallied 8.1% this week and they traded in the green again Friday. These big tech companies are scheduled to report earnings next week.

A growing number of Republicans have expressed doubts over the need for another stimulus bill, especially one with a price tag of $1.9 trillion proposed by Biden.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has criticized the size of the latest round of proposed stimulus checks. Dissent from either party carries weight for Biden, who took office with a slim majority in Congress.

Meanwhile, the Senate is expected on Friday to overwhelmingly confirm former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as Biden’s Treasury secretary. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to lead the department.

Prices for the 10-Year Treasury were higher, weighing yields to 1.09% from at Thursday’s 1.10%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices swooned 69 cents to $52.44U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices skidded $13.00 to $1,852.90 U.S. an ounce.