Category: Markets / Finance / January 11, 2013 4:48 PM EST
U.S. stocks ended little changed on Friday (January 11) as investors took a step back from buying ahead of next week's busy corporate earnings calendar.
Overall earnings are expected to grow by just 1.9 percent in this season, according to Thomson Reuters data. Analysts say that, with the bar low, there's room for companies to beat expectations, and that may have contributed to the rise in stocks so far in 2013.
That rally has slowed in the last few days.
The S&P 500 has gained 5 percent over the last two weeks to take the benchmark to five-year highs.
Wells Fargo & Co set a weak tone Friday after it reported results. It showed lower fourth-quarter net interest margin - a key measure of how much money banks make from loans - even as profit jumped.
The bank, which was the first major financial institution to report results this earnings season, also made fewer mortgage loans than in the third quarter.
Wells Fargo ended down 0.8 percent at $35.10 (USD), off its lows for the day, while bank shares weighed on the broader market. The S&P 500 financial sector index fell 0.3 percent after rallying more than 1 percent on Thursday (January 10).
Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc are due to report results next week, as are other major companies including General Electric and Intel.
An agreement reached in Washington at the start of the year over the "fiscal cliff" saw investors in U.S.-based funds add $7.53 billion to stock mutual funds in the week ended Jan 9, the most since 2001, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 17.21 points, or 0.13 percent, to 13,488.43. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dipped 0.07 points to 1,472.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 3.88 points, or 0.12 percent, to 3,125.64.
For the week, the S&P and Dow both gained 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.8 percent.
Boeing weighed on the Dow after a cracked cockpit window and an oil leak on separate flights in Japan added to problems with some of its Dreamliner 787 jets, compounding safety concerns about the new aircraft.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said the jet would be subject to a review of its critical systems by regulators. Boeing was the biggest loser on the Dow, falling 2.5 percent to $75.16.