US Stock Indexes Off to Mixed Start

(AP) -- Major U.S. stock indexes wavered between small gains and losses in early trading Friday as the market retreated slightly from its latest highs.

Even so, the S&P 500 was on pace for its fifth-straight weekly gain. With less than three trading days left in 2019, the benchmark index is on track for its best year since 2013 and within striking distance of its biggest annual gain since 1997.

Losses in technology, communication services and health care stocks weighed on the market, offsetting more gains by retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending.

A truce in the 17-month U.S.-China trade war and positive signs for the economy have helped keep investors in a buying mood. Fears about a possible recession have also faded since the summer after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times. The central bank appears set to keep them low for a long time.

Still, as the market prepares to close out a strong year of gains next week, uncertainty remains over the final details of the "Phase 1" trade deal and whether Washington and Beijing will be able to resolve remaining differences not addressed by the initial pact. Next year also has the added complication of the U.S. presidential election.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up less than 0.1% as of 10:36 a.m. Eastern time. The index has finished with a weekly gain in 10 out of the past 11 weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 43 points, or 0.2%, to 28,664. The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1%, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 0.5%.

TURBULENCE: Several airlines fell, weighing on the market. American Airlines Group was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, shedding 0.8%. Southwest Airlines dropped 0.6% and Delta Air Lines lost 0.9%.

RETAILERS RULE: Amazon.com and Ulta Beauty were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 a day after a report showed a surge in last-minute online holiday shopping. Amazon climbed 1.3% and Ulta Beauty added 1.4%.

EXECUTIVE SHUFFLE: Michaels shares rose 2.6% after the retailer hired an executive from Walmart to be CEO.

BOND YIELDS: Bond prices rose. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.88% from 1.90% late Thursday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 33 cents to $61.35 per barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 27 cents to $66.49 per barrel. The drop in oil prices weighed on energy stocks. Helmerich & Payne fell 1.1%.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: European markets were mostly higher. Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong finished with gains and Tokyo declined.

(AG)