S&P 500 Futures Decline as Energy, Telecom Weigh

U.S. stocks declined Friday, as tumbling oil prices and worries over the upcoming French election dampened investors’ enthusiasm.

The large-cap S&P 50 Index settled down 0.3% at 2,348.69, its third drop of the week. Still, the index held on for a weekly gain of 0.9%, rebounding from multi-month lows before the Easter long weekend.

Seven of 11 sectors finished in the red, with telecommunications services shouldering the biggest decline. Shares in the sector fell 1.6% on Friday.

Financials stocks ended 0.9% lower. Healthcare finished down 0.5%.Real estate and consumer stocks rounded out the losers for the day.

Energy shares pared losses to finish 0.4% lower as U.S. oil prices fell below $50 a barrel for the first time in over three weeks. Crude prices settled at $49.54 a barrel in New York.

Utilities rose 0.5%, a sign investors were focused on defensive plays.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 20,547.76. The Nasdaq finished 0.1% lower at 5,910.52.

Friday’s decline was accompanied by a burst in volatility, as investors weighed geopolitical risks and mixed earnings. The CBOE VIX, Wall Street’s preferred barometer of investor fear, rose more than 3%.

Over the weekend, investors will be monitoring the first round of French elections, where four candidates are vying for the presidency. Every poll for the past month has shown independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and National Front leader Marine Le Pen taking the top two spots in Sunday’s election. However, when margins of error are factored, each of the four main candidates has a chance to move on to the second-round run-off vote scheduled for May 7.

To avert a run-off election, one of the candidates must secure a majority vote on Sunday.

S&P 500 Index

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Sam Bourgi is a financial market analyst for economiccalendar.com. He has more than six years of progressive experience in economic and financial analysis, research consulting and sectoral analysis. As a published author in government, peer-reviewed, online and industry sources, he has developed a fundamental approach to the financial markets with a broad focus on stock indices, commodities and the technology sector. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Windsor and Master’s degree from McMaster University.