Most regional stocks ended the first half of the year on a calm note Friday.
A handful of regionals reported percentage gains of note — YRC, up 1.9 percent; O’Reilly Automotive, up .7 percent, and Sprint, up .6 percent.
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On the flip side, Kansas City Southern fell 1.6 percent and H Block fell 1.9 percent.
Overall, the stock market closed mostly lower, a peaceful end to the most volatile month in nearly two years.
“It’s a dull Friday,” said Gary Flam, a stock manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors. A bull market, he added, is “rarely a straight march up.”
The Standard Poor’s 500 index ended its bumpy ride in June down 1.5 percent, the first monthly loss since October. The index still had its best first half of a year since 1998.
Investors seemed unsure how to react to recent statements by Federal Reserve officials about when the central bank might end its support for the economy. Mixed economic news Friday added to investor uncertainty after big stock gains.
On Friday, an index consumer confidence was up but a gauge of business activity in the Chicago area plunged.
“Investors don’t know what to make of the news,” said John Toohey, vice president of stock investments at USAA Investment Management.
The S 500 stock index closed down 6.92 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,606.28. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 114.89 points, or 0.8 percent, to 14,909.60. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.38 points, or 0.04 percent, to 3,403.25.
The BATS 1000 fell 63.84 points, or 0.35 percent, to close at 18,025.96.
Stocks have jumped around in June. By contrast, the first five months of the year were mostly calm, marked by small but steady gains as investors bought on news of higher home prices, record corporate earnings and an improving jobs market.
By May 21, the S 500 had climbed to a record 1,669, up 18 percent for the year. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke the next day, and prices began gyrating.
Investors have long known that the central bank would eventually pull back from its bond purchases, which are designed to lower interest rates and get people to borrow and spend more. Last week, Bernanke got more specific about the timing. He said the Fed could start purchasing fewer bonds later this year, and stop buying them completely by the middle of next year, if the economy continued to strengthen.
Investors dumped stocks, but then had second thoughts this week as other Fed officials stressed that the central bank wouldn’t pull back on its support soon. The Dow gained 365 points over the previous three days this week. The Dow has had 16 triple-digit moves for the month, the most since September 2011.
Bonds have also been on a bumpy ride in recent weeks, mostly down.
The prospect of fewer purchases by the Fed sent investors fleeing from all sorts of bonds – municipals, U.S. Treasury securities, corporate bonds, foreign government debt and high-yield bonds. Investors pulled a record $23 billion from bond mutual funds in the five trading days ended Wednesday, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Bond yields, which move in the opposite direction of bond prices, have rocketed.
Capitol Federal Financial fell 9 cents, or 0.70%, to close at $12.15.
Cerner Corp. fell 70 cents, or 0.72%, to close at $96.09.
Commerce Bancshares Inc. fell 20 cents, or 0.46%, to close at $43.55.
Compass Minerals rose 94 cents, or 1.12%, to close at $84.53.
DST Systems Inc. fell 44 cents, or 0.67%, to close at $65.33.
Ferrellgas Partners L.P. rose 9 cents, or 0.42%, to close at $21.64.
Garmin Ltd. fell 4 cents, or 0.11%, to close at $36.17.
Great Plains Energy rose 10 cents, or 0.45%, to close at $22.54.
H Block Inc. fell 54 cents, or 1.91%, to close at $27.75.
Inergy L.P. fell 6 cents, or 0.37%, to close at $16.02.
Kansas City Life Insurance Co. rose 19 cents, or 0.50%, to close at $38.27.
Kansas City Southern fell $1.72, or 1.60%, to close at $105.96.
Layne Christensen Co. rose 2 cents, or 0.10%, to close at $19.51.
O'Reilly Automotive Inc. rose 82 cents, or 0.73%, to close at $112.62.
Sprint Nextel Corp. rose 4 cents, or 0.57%, to close at $7.02.
UMB Financial Corp. fell 19 cents, or 0.34%, to close at $55.67.
Waddell Reed Financial Corp. fell 43 cents, or 0.98%, to close at $43.50.
YRC Worldwide Inc. rose 54 cents, or 1.91%, to close at $28.75.