US markets finish higher as investors shrug off data

US stocks closed higher on Friday, with market-leading growth shares kick-starting indexes’ climb as investors looked past disappointing US economic data.

Despite their advances, all three major US stock indexes ended the session below last Friday’s close, ending a five-week streak of weekly gains.

Investors favoured growth over value, with megacap tech stocks, led by Apple and Microsoft, doing the heavy lifting.

The University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment data for November unexpectedly dropped to a 10-year low, and a Labor Department report showed job openings barely budged from record highs even as workers are quitting in record numbers.

“Markets drifted higher today despite a very weak consumer sentiment report, as inflation seems to be hurting consumers more than corporate profits,” said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.

The souring mood of the consumer could be worrisome to retailers as the holiday shopping season draws near, and is likely to draw intensified scrutiny to upcoming retail earnings reports.

Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Macy’s are among the high profile retailers expected to report next week.

“Investors will be focused on guidance from retailers to determine if inflation will crimp profit margins or if costs can be passed through,” Carter added.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5 percent to 36,100. The S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent to 4,682 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1 percent to 15,860.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson gained 1.2 percent after the healthcare giant announced splitting into two companies, dividing its consumer health care segments from its pharmaceuticals/medical devices business.

Tesla dropped 2.8 percent on news that Chief Executive Elon Musk has sold an additional US$700 million in stock in the next chapter of a saga that began with Musk’s infamous Twitter poll on whether he should offload shares in the company he founded.

Rival electric automaker Rivian Automotive advanced 5.7 percent, notching its third consecutive gain in as many days as a publicly traded company.

US-listed shares of Alibaba Group Holding slipped 0.6 percent following the e-commerce giant’s report showing its slowest-ever Singles Day sales. (Reuters)