Energy Leads Indexes Higher

New York — A listless Friday on Wall Street finished with U.S. stocks eking out small gains as strength in energy, phone and industrial companies offset losses elsewhere.

Some health insurers bounced back after Sen. John McCain said he wouldn’t support the latest Republican effort to roll back the Affordable Care Act.

Real estate and utilities companies were among the biggest decliners. A new round of tensions between the U.S. and North Korea helped send bond yields lower, which weighed on banks and other financial stocks. The sector notched daily gains earlier in the week.

“Geopolitical tensions coming out of North Korea caused a flight to quality, which kind of put the brakes on the momentum in financials,” said David Schiegoleit, managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management. “Today equity markets are simply moving sideways and probably digesting that.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1.62 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,502.22. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 9.64 points, or 0.04 percent, to 22,349.59. The average was held back by a loss in Apple, which slid $1.50, or 1 percent, to $151.89.

The Nasdaq composite added 4.23 points, or 0.07 percent, to 6,426.92.

Small-company stocks did better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 gained 6.60 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,450.78, a fraction of a point above its previous record high.

The Russell 2000 also notched the biggest weekly gain, 1.3 percent. The S&P 500 and Dow posted small gains, while the Nasdaq closed out the week with a modest loss.

The stock indexes spent much of the day drifting between small gains and losses as investors weighed the latest developments in the political brinkmanship between the U.S. and North Korea. The heightened tensions drove up bond prices, which sent yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 2.25 percent from 2.28 percent late Thursday.

Several health care companies recovered some of the ground they lost earlier as McCain said he wouldn’t support the latest Republican health care bill, dealing what could be a fatal blow to the last-gasp GOP measure in a Senate showdown expected this week.

Centene, which administers Medicaid programs and sells health plans to ACA exchanges, rose $1.48, or 1.6 percent, to $92.22. Molina Healthcare gained $2.81, or 4.5 percent, to $65.32.

Energy stocks rose as crude oil prices finished higher. Hess added 87 cents, or 2 percent, to $44.50.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, to settle at $50.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 43 cents, or 0.8 percent, to close at $56.86 a barrel in London.

Gold rose $2.70 to $1,297.50 an ounce. Silver lost 3 cents to $16.98 an ounce. Copper added 1 cent to $2.95 a pound.

The dollar weakened to 112.05 yen from 112.38 yen on Thursday. The euro climbed to $1.1941 from $1.1885.

Markets overseas were mixed Friday. Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gained 0.3 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent. In Asia, markets finished unevenly after S&P downgraded the credit rating for China and Hong Kong.

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