COLUMBIA - U.S. stocks retreated Friday, snapping the Dow's longest winning streak in more than 16 years. The S&P 500 came close to setting a new record high but pulled back as well.
The three major indexes closed down- causing investors to question if this historic rally is running out of steam. The Dow slid 25.03 points to close at 14,514.11, its first decline on a Friday so far this year. It comes after 10 positive sessions in a row, the Dow's longest win streak since 1996. If the blue chip index had held on to gains Friday, it would've logged its first 11-session winning streak in more than 21 years.
The S&P 500 erased 2.51 points to end at 1,560.72, almost 5 points short of its 2007 closing high - 1,565.15. The index closed two points away from that all-time closing high Thursday. The NASDAQ declined 9.86 points to finish at 3,249.07.
Still, both the S&P 500 and NASDAQ posted their third-consecutive week of gains and the Dow saw its fourth-straight week of gains. It's up an impressive 11 percent so far this year. For the week, markets gained - the Dow climbed 0.81 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.61 percent, and the NASDAQ came in 0.14 percent higher.
Those weekly gains were influenced by jobs data from Thursday. For the third week in a row jobless claims dropped- meaning the number of Americans who filed new claims for unemployment benefits fell. The drop gives hope we'll see acceleration in labor market. The last time we saw these levels was in the fall of 2007, before the recession hit. The data means fewer people are being laid off, but it's unclear if that will turn into more hiring.
But the boost is much-needed. Three and a half years into the recovery and Missouri is still more than 140,000 jobs short of its January 2008 peak.
We are seeing ecouraging signs locally that hiring is on the rise. Columbia-based Veteran's United is growing quickly. The company added 450 jobs last year and just purchased a new building in Columbia that will house 180 employees.
But right behind that positive jobs data came a disappointing comsumer sentiment report, with the lowest number since December 2011 - and that spurred Friday's losses. Investors are questioning whether a correction of this historic rally is on its way or if the losses are just a breather and the rally will keep on strong.
The Fed's low interest rate policy is certainly helping this rally and next week Ben Bernake will decide if he wants to keep his foot on the gas. That decision will certainly influence markets, as will a slew of economic data on housing. Existing home sales and housing starts numbers are out next week as well.