US STOCKS-Wall Street flat as biotechs bounce, JPMorgan drags

Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:17am EDT

* JPMorgan falls, Wells Fargo gains after results

* Producer prices post largest increase in nine months

* UMich consumer sentiment index hits nine-month high

* Gap shares fall after March sales

* Dow off 0.18 pct, S&P up 0.11 pct, Nasdaq up 0.28 pct (Updates to open, adds data)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Friday, as biotech stocks staged a rebound from a selloff in the prior session, but disappointing earnings from JPMorgan curbed gains.

JPMorgan Chase & Co shares fell 3 percent to $55.66 as the biggest drag on the S&P 500 after it reported a far weaker-than-expected quarterly profit as revenue from securities trading fell. The S&P financial index lost 0.7 percent as the worst performing S&P sector.

"That's not helping matters," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York. "At the moment that is going to prevent us from really rallying, if anything it is going to cause more pressure as we go into the end of the day."

In contrast, Wells Fargo & Co, the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, reported a 14 percent rise in first-quarter net profit as costs fell. Its shares gained 1.6 percent to $48.45.

S&P 500 companies' first-quarter earnings are projected to have increased just 0.9 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data showed. That's down sharply from the start of the year, when profit growth was estimated at 6.5 percent. Investors will be looking at the impact of harsh winter weather on first-quarter earnings, and signs of optimism for the second quarter.

Another sharp selloff in biotech and momentum names on Thursday sent the Nasdaq to its worst decline since Nov. 9, 2011 and the benchmark S&P index to its biggest fall since Feb 3.

After showing initial weakness Friday, biotechs rebounded, with the Nasdaq biotech index up 1.1 percent after it entered bear market territory earlier in the session, falling more than 20 percent from its high on Feb 25. Shares of Gilead Sciences Inc rose 3.8 percent to $68.02.

"The pendulum always swings too far to the left, so like everything you might get a little more pressure, I don't think you will see a 50 percent or 40 percent correction in some of these names, 20 percent or 25 percent might be what you get," said Polcari.

Equities have been volatile this week, with Thursday's move a sharp reversal from gains Wednesday after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve policymakers' meeting suggested members were more likely to keep rates low than previously expected.

The CBOE Volatility index is up nearly 17 percent for the week.

Even with the recent declines, investors appear committed to equities. Data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service on Thursday showed investors in U.S.-based funds poured $8.9 billion into stock funds in the week ended April 9.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 29.89 points or 0.18 percent, to 16,140.33, the S&P 500 gained 0.11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,833.19 and the Nasdaq Composite added 11.216 points, or 0.28 percent, to 4,065.322.

For the week, the Dow is down 1.7 percent, the S&P is down 1.8 percent and the Nasdaq is down 1.6 percent.

Since reaching a record intraday high on April 4, the S&P has fallen as much as 4.1 percent, while the Nasdaq has dropped 8.3 percent from its March 6 intraday high.

The seasonally adjusted producer price index for final demand increased 0.5 percent last month, the largest increase in nine months after slipping 0.1 percent in February, pointing to some pockets of inflation at the factory gate.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary April reading on the overall index of consumer sentiment came in at 82.6, the highest since July, compared with the final reading of 80.0 in March, as both current conditions and expectations brightened.

Gap Inc lost 1.5 percent to $38.72 after the retailer posted its March sales results. The S&P retail index shed 0.3 percent. (Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bernadette Baum)

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