NEW YORK - Apple wowed investors this week while a disappointing outlook from Amazon revived anxiety about the overall tech sector as the busiest week of first-quarter earnings season concluded.
Deep losses pushed the market into the red for the week , with the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index suffering the biggest losses, shedding 19.96 points (0.49 per cent) to 4,075.56.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 47.14 (0.29 per cent) to 16,361.46, while the broad-based S&P 500 slipped 1.45 (0.08 per cent) to 1,863.40.
Broad selling pressure, which had receded a bit for about a week and a half, came back with a vengeance Friday after Amazon delivered a skimpy outlook for profit margins and projected a second-quarter operating loss of as much as $455 million.
Analysts also cited rising concerns about Ukraine as a major drag on the market.
Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management, said the week’s performance of so-called “glamor” stocks like Facebook and Netflix suggests “this buyer’s strike is still going on.”
Netflix initially surged after the company reported that revenues breached $1 billion and that it planned a bump in subscription prices. Facebook also got a quick lift after announcing that profits tripled to $642 million on strong gains in mobile users and mobile advertising. Yet both stocks ended the week with declines.
“What you see today is a continuation of the trend of the high-growth stocks struggling,” said David Levy, portfolio manager for Kenjol Capital Management.
Despite the weak Amazon report and a handful of other earnings disappointments, the bulk of the reports thus far have bested expectations. Of the 203 companies that reported through Thursday, 138 beat expectations, 45 missed and 20 met expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ.
Industrial heavyweight Caterpillar, which has had disappointing results in recent quarters, raised its profit forecasts as improved performance in the energy, transportation and construction sectors that offset continued weakness in mining.
Fellow Dow member Boeing also pleased Wall Street as it raised its 2014 profit outlook on strong demand for new jetliners.  Perhaps the biggest standout of the week was Apple, which surged nearly nine per cent in the two days since releasing its report Wednesday.
In addition to reporting profits that beat expectations by a wide margin, the company unveiled a dividend increase, a ramp-up in stock buybacks and a seven-for-one stock split. Still, analysts cautioned that Apple faces pressure to introduce another blockbuster product.
“We are ready,” said Forrester analyst Frank Gillett. “It is time for Apple to show us something from their labs; from behind their closed doors.” Other strong reports came from American Airlines, Comcast, Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft and Travelers. The disappointments included Ford Motor and United Airlines. Besides earnings, investors kept an eye on increasingly fraught tensions between Russia and Ukraine that continues to reverberate with governments around the world.  On Friday, Ukraine ratcheted up military operations against pro-Russian rebels in the east, while Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Russia’s actions suggested it “wants to start a third world war.” Following a conference call with other leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that European Union ministers would meet soon to agree new sanctions targeting Russia.
What investors fear most in the Ukraine situation is the unknown, said Brent Schutte, market strategist at BMO Global Asset Management.
“You can never say for sure what’s going to occur or if it spirals out of control,” he said. Earnings will continue to play a central role in markets next week with reports from several prominent companies, including ExxonMobil, Merck, Time Warner and Twitter.
Investors will also digest a much heavier week of economic data. Major releases include the first estimate of gross domestic product and the monthly jobs report for April. The Federal Reserve will also be back in the headlines with Wednesday’s conclusion of a two-day meeting of the committee that sets monetary policy.