Major U.S. stock indexes veered between small gains and losses in late-afternoon trading Friday. Investors were weighing new economic data and the latest corporate earnings news. Utilities stocks were among the biggest gainers.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose three points to 18,255 as of 3:12 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added less than one point to 2,121. The Nasdaq composite declined four points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,046.
THE QUOTE: The S&P 500 closed at an all-time high on Thursday, while the Dow came within 36 points of its own record. When the market hits new milestones it tends to make investors reluctant to bid up stocks further, especially before the weekend, said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade's chief strategist.
"Often, in fact, there's a bit of selling pressure in these situations as many people want to book some profits after these days," he said.
SECTOR VIEW: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index rose, led by utilities stocks. The sector remains down 6.7 percent this year. Financials fared the worst. The sector is down 0.4 percent this year.
UNAPPETIZING OUTLOOK: El Pollo Loco Holdings tumbled 15.1 percent after the restaurant operator reported better-than-expected financial results, but disappointed Wall street with a cautious outlook. The stock lost $4.39 to $24.67.
PRICEY JAVA: Keurig Green Mountain sank 7.8 percent as investors worried that the company's new cold-drink machine is priced too high. The stock lost $8.03 to $95.05.
DISAPPOINTING RESULTS: Dillard's reported weak first-quarter financial results, which pulled the department store chain's shares down 7.9 percent. The stock lost $9.87 to $114.33.
NETFLIX BUZZ: Shares in Netflix surged following a published report saying that the video streaming service is in talks to do business in China. The stock climbed 4.7 percent, notching the biggest gain among stocks in the S&P 500. Netflix rose $27.82 to $614.67.
STRONG QUARTERS: Applied Materials gained 2 percent after the semiconductor maker reported quarterly results that came in ahead of analysts' forecasts. The stock added 41 cents to $20.27. Investors also applauded the latest earnings from Darling Ingredients. The producer of natural ingredients reported a first-quarter profit on lower expenses, beating Wall Street expectations. Darling's shares rose $1.48, or 10.5 percent, to $15.57.
MANUFACTURING UPDATE: Separate reports offered a mixed assessment of U.S. manufacturing. The Federal Reserve said factory activity in New York increased slightly in May, suggesting that manufacturers are beginning to adapt to the challenges caused by a stronger dollar, lower oil prices and restrained consumer spending. Meanwhile, U.S. industrial output fell for the fifth straight month in April. The trend suggests that weakness in manufacturing and mining are weighing heavily on the economy.
"This week, on balance, the economic reports have been a little soggy," said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management. "We're muddling through and the market is just fine with that."
EUROPEAN ACTION: European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said that the bank will fully implement its $1.2 trillion bond-buying program. There had been some speculation that the ECB might end the program earlier than anticipated in the wake of solid economic growth figures. Germany's DAX fell 0.2 percent while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.2 percent.
ASIA SCORECARD: Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.8 percent while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 2 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7 percent. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.7 percent after the Bank of Korea kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 1.6 percent. Markets in Southeast Asia mostly rose.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 19 cents to close at $59.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.14 percent from 2.23 percent late Thursday.
METALS: Precious and industrial metals futures edged mostly higher. Gold increased 10 cents to $1,225.30 an ounce, silver also rose 10 cents to $17.56 an ounce and copper was unchanged at $2.92 a pound.