The three main U.S. Stock indexes posted weekly gains, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.8% for its strongest weekly gain in a month. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite also logged weekly gains. Stocks found broad support this week from better-than-feared corporate earnings, which helped limit declines.
Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones, cautioned against reading too much into the Friday decline, saying next week's earnings reports and the outcome of the Doha, Qatar, meeting of oil producers would likely determine the future tone of markets. "This is really a wait-and-see market rather than one where investors have a clear sense of the direction going forward," Warne said.
Crude-oil futures dropped after reports that Iran's oil minister Bijan Zanganeh won't attend the Doha gathering this weekend but instead will send a less prominent representative. Optimism about a possible multilateral agreement, which had supported prices earlier in the week, continued to fade on the news, leaving oil prices to unwind a significant portion of their prior weekly gains.
But while oil prices weighed on energy shares, Citigroup Inc. (C)reported that revenue and profit declines weren't as severe as expected, adding to hopes that the first quarter corporate earnings season might be better than expected.
Investors had braced for possibly the worst earnings quarter since 2009, but so far, companies have broadly outperformed lowered expectations. Worries about poor financial-sector performance were particularly acute, but several of the country's largest banks--including Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.(JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co.--have done better than expected.