Wall Street staged a late-day comeback Friday for the second day in a row but it had to look past a number of worrisome issues.
The Dow finished higher for the second time this week after a choppy session. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also rebounded from an early weakness to settle with modest gains. But it still was the worst week for stocks since March.
Trade tensions between the U.S. and China ratcheted up. The White House moved to block chip companies from doing business with China's Huawei Technologies.Apple got caught up in it all with the Chinese taking aim at the tech giant and other major U.S. exporters, according to Chinese media. Boeing’s equipment was placed on a do-not buy list by Beijing, according to the same report.
A round of dismal economic data also didn't help. Industrial production suffered a record drop of more than 11 percent. Consumer sentiment rebounded in early May from a record plunge the month before but consumers remain on edge. And there was a record plunge in retail sales for April. Sales tumbled 16.4 percent, putting the economy on track for the biggest second-quarter contraction since the Great Depression.
All of that should have kept the market down, but it didn't. Mercadien Asset Management President Ken Kamen thinks he knows why.
"When the retail sales number came it was bad, as a mater of fact is was horrific, but then as the day wore on investors started to realize: wait a minute, we expected that, we knew that was coming and that's not all parts of retail, and as they started parsing the numbers, I think you started to see the market gain its sanity back a little bit."
Also helping out the market: optimism from President Trump that the U.S. could come up with a novel coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.
But Abbot Labs fell after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned the company's speedy coronavirus test may not give accurate results.
And Google was in the spotlight. The Justice Department is likely to bring an antitrust lawsuit in next few months, according to the Wall Street Journal and several state Attorneys Generals are likely to band together to file an anti-competition case by the fall.