Wall Street erases gain after U.S. indicts Russians

(Reuters) – Gain on Wall Street evaporated on Friday after a U.S. grand jury indicted several Russians for interfering in with the 2016 presidential election to help then-candidate Donald Trump.

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office said a U.S. federal grand jury indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of interfering with U.S. elections and political processes.

The S&P 500 had been up over half a percent but lost much of that after the announcement of the indictments. It remained on track for six straight days of gains.

“The market was looking for an excuse to roll over and Russia headlines would do it. You’ve had such a rally for the week, and people have been looking for an excuse to take profits heading into the weekend,” said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas.

A market correction sparked by inflation concerns earlier in February raised fears that a nine-year bull market had ended, but data on consumer prices and retail sales this week left investors less worried.

Investors on Friday snapped up shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), Abbvie (ABBV.N) and Pfizer (PFE.N), all up more than 1.5 percent and supporting the S&P 500 more than any other stocks.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

“The fundamental story has not changed,” said Ben Phillips, Chief Investment Officer of EventShares. “We really have not seen the tax reform start flowing through yet into company earnings. We think it’s going to cause a second wave of earnings optimism.”

At 2:49 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 0.19 percent at 25,248.25 points, while the S&P 500 .SPX had gained 0.16 percent to 2,735.82.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 0.09 percent to 7,250.13.

Economic data out on Friday pained a rosy picture. Homebuilding increased to more than a one-year high in January, boosted by strong increases in the construction of single- and multi-family housing units. A different report showed import prices jumped last month.

The CBOE volatility index .VIX, known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, edged up to 20.43 but remained way off the 50-point level it hit during the peak of the sell-off.

Coca-Cola (KO.N) rose 0.5 percent after the company reported better-than-expected profit and sales as it sold more teas, coffees and vitamin water.

Among the big decliners was Kraft Heinz (KHC.O), which dropped 3.7 percent after quarterly profit and sales missed analysts’ estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.24-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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