Lucky 7: S&P 500 Squeezes Out 7th-Weekly Win Streak; WMT Ends Down 2%
Stocks recovered from their lows Friday to close narrowly mixed, but the S&P 500 managed to pull off its seventh-straight week higher, logging the longest weekly win streak in over two years.
The last time the S&P 500 opened a year with seven-consecutive weekly gains was in 1967.
U.S. Major Index Performance Since Last Friday & Year-To-Date
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The S&P 500 slipped 1.59 points, to end at 1,519.79. And the Nasdaq dipped 6.63 points, to finish at 3,192.03. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended below 13.
For the week, the Dow erased 0.08 percent, the S&P 500 squeezed out a gain of 0.12 percent, and the Nasdaq slid 0.06 percent. Alcoa was the best weekly performer on the Dow, while Coca-Cola fell.
For the week, industrials led the key S&P sector gainers, while telecoms sagged.
Major indexes briefly turned lower in midday trading following a news report that Wal-Mart's February sales were off to the worst monthly start in nearly seven years.
February monthly sales are a "total disaster," wrote a Wal-Mart vice president in an internal email to executives, according to a report from Bloomberg, driven by payroll-tax increases that hit consumers. Wal-Mart initially dropped more than 3 percent before shaving some losses ahead of the close.
"As with any organization, we often see internal communications that are not entirely accurate, that lack the proper context and represent individual opinions," Wal-Mart responded following the report.
"We've been stalled for a week and a half—we've been churning, unable to pierce the upper level at 1,525 [on the S&P 500]," said Kenny Polcari, director of floor operations at O'Neill Securities. "But I'm not necessarily surprised as the market needs to consolidate and catch up with itself."
Meanwhile, the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers met in Moscow to discuss fears of competitive currency devaluations. (Read More: What Currency War? Move Along, G-20 Leaders Say)
Angel Gurria, secretary general for the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) dismissed concerns about competitive currency devaluations, which originally came into focus when Japan's new leadership launched a program of aggressive monetary stimulus, causing the yen to plummet.
"There is no currency war. We are furthest away today from a currency war than we were two or three years ago," Gurria told CNBC. "We are fighting an old war. Today we should be concentrating on productivity, be concentrating on competitiveness and we are being distracted by this currency discussion."
Among earnings, Campbell Soup posted earnings that topped expectations, thanks to its recent acquisition of Bolthouse Farms.
Kraft Foods Group declined after the company said it anticipated below-consensus earnings for the fourth quarter, though it raised its full-year outlook for 2013.
Widely-followed investor Carl Icahn said in a regulatory filing that he bought 14 million shares of Herbalife, giving him a 12.98 percent stake in the firm. Icahn discussed his long position on CNBC, saying he was taking the long position to make money, regardless of his personal feelings about Pershing Square's Bill Ackman. Icahn's big bet comes almost three weeks after he and activist investor Ackman engaged in an epic verbal battle on CNBC. Herbalife shares moved off their early highs following Icahn's appearance. (Read More: Icahn vs. Ackman: Is It Business or Personal?)
MeadWestvaco jumped to lead the S&P 500 gainers after billionaire investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management now owns 1.6 million shares in the packaging company.
Xoom skyrocketed nearly 60 percent in the online money-transfer company's first day as a publicly traded firm. The stock opened at $21.
On the economic front, consumer sentiment improved to 76.3 in February, marking the best level since November, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's index. Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a reading of 74.8. And manufacturing in New York state unexpectedly jumped to 10.0 from -7.8 in February, according to the New York Federal Reserve, gaining for the first time since July. Economists expected a reading of -2.0.
Meanwhile, industrial production unexpectedly slipped 0.1 percent in January, according to the Federal Reserve, dragged by weak manufacturing and mining, Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a gain of 0.2 percent.
This week was marked with a flurry of M&A deals. Berkshire Hathaway agreed to buy ketchup maker Heinz, bankrupt American Arilines parent AMR merged with US Airways to form the world's largest airline company, and cable giant Comcast took full control of NBCUniversal from General Electric.
So far, more than $158 billion in deals have been announced in 2013, pointing to healthy valuations and positive bets on the economic outlook.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Presidents' Day—US Markets Closed
TUESDAY: NAHB housing market index, HTC press event; Earnings from Medtronic, Express Scripts, Analog Devices, CF Industries, Dell, Herbalife, Marriott, Fidelity National
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications, housing starts, producer price index, FOMC minutes, Sony Playstation event; Earnings from BHP Billiton, Devon Energy, Dish Network, Garmin, Toll Brothers, Sodastream, Cheesecake Factory, Tesla Motors
THURSDAY: Consumer price index, jobless claims, PMI manufacturing index flash, existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators, natural gas inventories, oil inventories, Fed's Bullard speaks, Fed's Williams speaks, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Fed's Fisher speaks, weekly rail numbers; Earnings from Wal-Mart, Chesapeake Energy, Hormel, Safeway, AIG, Hewlett-Packard, Cabot Oil & Gas, Newmont Mining, Nordstrom
FRIDAY: Fed's Powell speaks, Wynn shareholders meeting; Earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, Washington Post
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