U.S. stocks edged lower on Friday and were on track for a weekly decline as investors reacted to an uncertain political environment stemming from President Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Meanwhile, a pair of economic reports, retail sales and consumer prices, rose in the latest month, albeit by a slower pace than had been expected, casting a mixed picture about the state of the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.05% fell 41 points, or 0.2%, to 20,879. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.12% slipped 6.5 points to 2,388, a decline of 0.3%. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.05% fell 8 points to 6,108, a decline of 0.1%.
For the week so far, the Dow is looking at 0.6% drop and the S&P 500 at a 0.5% decline, each set to break a three-week string of weekly wins. The Nasdaq Composite is poised for a gain of 0.1%. That would mark the index’s fourth straight weekly rise, albeit the smallest in the streak.
Major U.S. indexes continue to trade near record levels, and the CBOE Volatility index VIX, +0.75% a proxy for investor anxiety, has been trading near multidecade lows. Earlier this week, it closed at its lowest level in more than 23 years. The VIX rose 0.8% to 10.65 on Friday, roughly half its long-term average of 20.
“No one really knows what it means to have such a low VIX at a time of such high uncertainty, rising rates, high valuations, and corporate profits that aren’t particularly strong,” said Jonathan Angrist, chief investment officer of Cognios Capital. “It is very unusual.”