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July 27, 2013

US stocks creep toward first weekly loss in July

NEW YORK — Weak results from several U.S. companies helped tug the stock market down slightly on Friday, putting major indexes on course for their first weekly loss this month.

Many traders are also looking ahead to a packed schedule of events next week, including a Federal Reserve meeting and the government’s monthly employment report.

“There’s just a deluge of market-moving events next week,” said Jeffrey Kleintop, the chief market strategist for LPL Financial. “Traders seem to be erring on the side of caution today.”

Expedia plunged 26 percent, the worst fall in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The online travel agency reported earnings late Thursday that badly missed analysts’ expectations. Higher costs were the main culprit. Expedia lost $17.09 to $47.91.

A half-hour before the closing bell, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,688.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 16 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 15,539. The Nasdaq composite index edged up two points to 3,608.

Before the market opened, Newmont Mining turned in a quarterly loss, largely a result of slumping prices for copper and gold. Analysts had predicted a slight profit. Newmont’s stock fell 30 cents, or 1 percent, to $30.33.

Starbucks posted results late Thursday that beat analysts’ estimates. Lower costs for coffee beans and better sales of salads and sandwiches helped. Starbucks jumped $5.09, or 7 percent, to $73.26.

It’s halftime in the second-quarter earnings season, and corporate profits are shaping up better than some had feared.

Analysts forecast that earnings for companies in the S&P 500 increased 4.5 percent over the same period in 2012, according to S&P Capital IQ. At the start of July, they predicted earnings would rise 2.8 percent. Nearly seven out of every 10 companies have surpassed Wall Street’s profit targets.

The stock market hasn’t ended the week with a loss since June 21, when speculation that the Federal Reserve would start easing off its support for the economy rattled financial markets.

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