NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are little changed Friday morning as gains by health care and technology companies are offset by losses in packaged food makers including Kraft Heinz and Campbell Soup, which reported disappointing results. Homebuilders are rising after the government said construction of new homes jumped in January. After two weeks of big losses, stocks are on track for their best week since 2011.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was unchanged at 2,730 as of 10:10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 25,237. The Nasdaq composite picked up 2 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 7,258. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rose 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,540.
The S&P 500 plunged 10 percent in nine days at the start of February. It’s up 5.8 percent in the last six days, including more than 4 percent this week. If that gain holds, this would be the best week for the index since August 2011. At that time the market was also coming back from a big drop related to the downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating and fears about outsize government debt in Europe.
HOME SWEET HOME: Construction on new homes jumped 9.7 percent in January, according to the Commerce Department. That was the highest level since October 2016, and permits, a sign of future construction, also climbed. For years homebuilders haven’t put up enough homes to meet demand, although that often helped their stocks because the shortage sent prices higher and higher. NVR gained .56, or 1 percent, to ,108.56 and Hovnanian Enterprises added 3 cents, or 1.4 percent, to .15 while D.R. Horton rose 21 cents to .32.
The news also helped home improvement retailers. Home Depot gained .34 to .61 and Lowe’s added 49 cents to .
NOT SATISFIED: Kraft Heinz had a weak quarter as sales of cheeses and cold cuts declined. The maker of Oscar Mayer meats, Jell-O pudding and Velveeta cheese fell .81, or 5.2 percent, to .90. Campbell Soup said sales of soups and fresh foods declined in the most recent quarter and its shares decl.40, or 2.9 percent, to .31. While jam maker J.M. Smucker met Wall Street’s estimates, its stock lost $.06 to .59.
Coca-Cola fared better as its sales surpassed analyst projections. The stock gained 21 cents to .
BAD FIT: VF Corp., the owner of brands such as Vans, North Face and Timberland, reported a solid quarter, but analysts said they expected better after several months of unusually cold winter weather. VF also said it will sell its Nautica apparel brand. With the stock up more than 50 percent over the last year, that wasn’t enough to keep the gains coming. The shares lost .11, or 7.3 percent, to .83.
BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.87 percent from 2.91 percent.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil slipped 18 cents to .16 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 13 cents to .46 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 106.29 yen from 106.27 yen. The euro fell to .2442 from .2506.
OVERSEAS: The CAC 40 of France climbed 0.9 percent after a strong gain a day ago. Germany’s DAX added 0.5 percent while the FTSE 100 in Britain gained 0.7 percent.In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index climbed 1.2 percent. Markets in China and South Korea were closed for lunar new year celebrations.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jayt .