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U.S. stocks pause after five-day rally; dollar rebounds

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Richard Leong
FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street ended little changed on Friday, taking a breather following a five-day winning streak, while the dollar rebounded against most currencies from earlier losses tied to expectations the U.S. central bank is in no hurry to raise interest rates.

Earlier weakness in stocks and data showing a decline in U.S. consumer prices in December stoked investor appetite for Treasuries, pushing their yields lower.

Stocks have rallied this week, helped by promises of patience from the Federal Reserve, the ECB mulling more cheap money, and progress in trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

"These risks seem more under control," said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco in New York.

Earlier Friday, U.S. stocks retreated as investors booked profits and reset positions ahead of the earnings season.

The initial pause came in the wake of a strong start to 2019, which lifted the S&P 500 <.SPX> by more than 10 percent from a 20-month low it touched around Christmas.

With big U.S. banks kicking off the fourth-quarter reporting season next week, investors will comb through earnings reports and projections for signs of a slowdown in economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 5.97 points, or 0.02 percent, to 23,995.95, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.38 point, or 0.01 percent, to 2,596.26 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 14.59 points, or 0.21 percent, to 6,971.48.

For the week, the Dow rose 2.4 percent, the S&P 500 added 2.54 percent and the Nasdaq gained 3.45 percent.

The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> benchmark was up 0.09 percent, bringing its weekly gain to 1.7 percent.MSCI's all-country index <.MIWD00000PUS>, was flat at 473.26. It posted a weekly increase to 2.9 percent, which was its strongest such rise in six weeks.

Treasury yields fell on safe-haven buying spurred by stock losses and as data showed U.S. consumer prices fell for the first time in nine months in December.

"There's a bit of profit-taking in stocks so that helped to rally Treasuries," said Larry Milstein, head of U.S. government and agency trading at R.W. Pressprich & Co. in New York.

The yields on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell 3 basis points at 2.702 percent, holding below a two-week peak reached earlier this week.

In currency markets, the dollar rose against the euro, boosted by technical factors after the euro hit key resistance levels.

The euro was down 0.32 percent against the dollar at $1.1463, marking a weekly gain of 0.6 percent.

China's onshore yuan finished the domestic session at 6.7482 per dollar, up 1.8 percent this week in its biggest gain since July 2005 when Beijing abandoned the yuan's peg to the dollar.

In commodities, oil prices declined, reducing their weekly gains tied to hopes that the United States and China may soon resolve their trade dispute.

Brent crude settled down $1.20 or 1.95 percent to $60.48 a barrel, ending the week with a 6 percent gain.

U.S. crude futures settled $1 or 1.90 percent lower at $51.59 a barrel, resulting in a weekly gain of about 8 percent which was the largest increase since June.

Gold edged higher for a fourth straight week of gains on bets the Fed could soon stop raising interest rates, which boost the appeal of the non-yielding metal. Spot gold rose 0.09 percent to $1,287.5 per ounce.

(Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Karen Brettell and Laila Kearney in NEW YORK; Noel Randewich in SAN FRANCISCO; and Swati Verma and Eileen Soreng in BENGALURU; Editing by Dan Grebler and James Dalgleish)