Wall Street points to first weekly gain in almost two months


NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street edged higher before markets opened early Friday, putting major benchmarks in a position for their first week of gains after a seven-week losing streak.

Future contracts for the Dow Industrial Average rose less than 0.1% and the S&P 500 rose 0.2%.

It would take a significant sell-off Friday to drag benchmarks back into negative territory for the week after strong quarterly earnings from big retailers Thursday propelled markets solidly higher. Heading into Friday’s trading session, major benchmarks are up between 3.4% and 4.4% for the week.

The U.S. retail sector is being closely watched by investors looking for more details on just how much pain inflation is inflicting on companies and consumers. Inflation is at a four-decade high and businesses have been raising prices on everything from food to clothing to offset higher costs.

There were bust results from Macy's, Dollar Tree and Dollar General on Thursday. Shares of Dollar Tree jumped nearly 22%, Macy's rose 19% and Dollar General gained more than 14%.

European shares rose in midday trading Friday, with France's CAC 40 adding 0.9%, Germany's DAX up 0.9% and Britain's FTSE 100 adding 0.3%.

Benchmarks in Asia finished higher, including Japan, China, Australia and South Korea.

“Improved risk sentiments in Wall Street, along with earnings outperformance from Alibaba and Baidu, may aid to fuel some upside for the Asia region into today’s session,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

Shares of Alibaba and Baidu surged after they reported better than expected results, easing some concerns about the negative impact from restrictions to curb COVID-19 infections. Both shares continued to rise.

Gauging Japan's economic path will be on investors' minds as data on manufacturing, housing and employment for April are set to be released next week. Some analysts expect the numbers to be dim because of a slowdown in exports to China during that period.

But some optimism is also in the air, with Tokyo's restrictions on tourists easing and the daily cap raising from 10,000 incoming people to 20,000 starting June 10. The Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is also set to push ahead in parliamentary discussions with a supplementary budget, another possible plus for investors.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.7% to finish at 26,781.68. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 surged 1.1% to 7,182.70. South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.0% to 2,638.05. Hong Kong's Hang Seng surged 2.9% to 20,697.36, while the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.2% to 3,130.24.

Moody’s Investors Service lowered the 2022 growth projections for G-20 economies to 3.1% in 2022, down from 5.9% growth in 2021. The latest forecast is half a percentage point lower than the 3.6% growth estimated in March. Slowing economic activity in China from the nation's “zero COVID” policy is dampening growth, Moody's said.

The impact from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine worsened inflation pressures by fueling higher energy and key food commodity costs. Supply chain problems worsened in the wake of China’s lockdown for several major cities as it tried to contain COVID-19 cases.

Consumers have been resilient about spending, but the pressure from inflation remains persistent and could be prompting a pullback or shift in spending from more expensive things to necessities.

In energy trading, U.S. benchmark crude slipped 74 cents to $113.35 a barrel. U.S. crude oil prices rose 3.4% Thursday, and are up more than 55% for the year. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 67 cents to $113.50 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched down to 126.95 Japanese yen from 127.10 yen. The euro cost $1.0716, down from $1.0733.

Economy, Wall Street, Stock market