Several months ago, Stephen J. Massocca, head of trading at Pacific Growth Equities LLC in San Francisco, sat down to plan a European vacation.
He decided the last two weeks of June would be the time to go. The market would be quiet, Massocca thought, as investors waited for news on inflation, interest rates and second-quarter earnings. Friday morning, a content Massocca was headed to the airport for a golf trip to Ireland and a sightseeing visit to Italy. The market, as he expected, was dormant.
"I feel prescient," Massocca said. "I thought it would be a dead period and the market would come back to life after the July 4th holiday when earnings start to come in. I didn't see anything that would really move the market unless we got some kind of surprise event."
This week brought no surprise events, and all three leading stock indicators barely budged.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 38.89 points, or 0.4 percent, on Friday to close at 10,416.41, just 6 points higher than last week's close. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock index finished up 2.97 points on Friday, or 0.3 percent, at 1135.02. The S&P 500 was off a total of 1.45 points for the week.
The technology-dominated Nasdaq composite index gained 3.06 points, or 0.2 percent, on Friday to close at 1986.73. The Nasdaq lost less than 1 percent on a week of very low volume and volatility across the stock market. Volume increased a bit Friday, but traders attributed the rise to "quadruple witching," the expiration of index futures, single-stock futures, stock options and index options.
Money managers and traders said there was little impetus to buy or sell stocks before the inflation picture clears up, the Federal Reserve Board moves on interest rates and investors get a sense of whether the robust boom in corporate earnings will continue. The Fed is widely expected to raise short-term rates by a quarter of a percentage point at its next meeting, June 29-30.
"Get used to it, because boredom is here for a while," said Tom McClellan, author of the McClellan Market Report, which analyzes trends in stock prices.
McClellan said that because the Fed has so clearly telegraphed its intent to raise rates a quarter-point, the meeting at the end of the month will probably not jump-start the stock market. "If that date was going to be significant, I'd be able to detect it," he said.
Instead, traders and money managers said investors were waiting for more news on core inflation and second-quarter earnings. Rising inflation is bad for stocks because it erodes the value of earnings.
So far, corporate earnings have defied expectations this year, keeping up the rapid growth that began last year. Analysts now expect average earnings of publicly traded U.S. companies to grow a healthy 20 percent in the second quarter from the same quarter a year earlier, according to data firm First Call, up from the 15 percent growth predicted when the quarter began.
Russ Koesterich, U.S. equity strategist at State Street Corp. in Boston, said if second-quarter earnings come in strong, technology shares could get a boost. He also said "old economy" shares such as machinery and energy companies are a good bet because they are trading at relatively low prices.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 20.57, to 6566.58; the American Stock Exchange index rose 7.99, to 1219.60; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 0.97, to 570.54.
* Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 5 to 4 on the NYSE, where trading volume rose to 1.49 billion shares, from 1.29 billion on Thursday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, decliners outnumbered advancers by 9 to 8 and volume totaled 1.64 billion, up from 1.44 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $2.50 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 4.71 percent, from 4.68 percent on Thursday.
* The dollar fell against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 108.75 yen, down from 109.48 late Thursday, and a euro bought $1.2140, up from $1.2063.
* Light, sweet crude oil for July delivery settled at $38.75, up 29 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery rose to $395.10 a troy ounce, from $388.90 on Thursday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.