12:52 PM, Sep 8, 2017 — The benchmark averages in the US were fluctuating between gains and losses on the last trading session of the week as Hurricane Irma barrelled toward Florida, while consumer shares retreated after grocer Kroger’s (KR) profit fell.
The severe storm is about 400 miles from Miami, according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest update, with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. Irma is moving on Florida just two weeks after Hurricane Harvey slammed in eastern Texas, causing massive flooding and damage that’s still being assessed.
Insurance-related stocks were stronger on Friday after coming under steady selling pressure during the week in a 1.6% slide. That’s steeper than the loss of about 0.3% on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The financials group rose 0.9% but was still down 2.3% in the week.
Consumer staples shed 0.8% after Kroger said fiscal second quarter earnings topped analysts’ estimates, but were weaker year-on-year. It also affirmed full-year guidance, but said the figures don’t include any impact from hurricanes Harvey or Irma. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) shed 1.2% and Target (TGT) lost 3%.
Equifax (EFX) dropped 12% in the steepest slide on the S&P 500 after saying a cybersecurity incident has potentially impacted about 143 million US consumers. Zumiez (ZUMZ) surged 22% after beating estimates with its quarterly results.
In afternoon trading, the Dow was up 0.2%, the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.3% and the S&P 500 was little changed.
Globally, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.6%, the FTSE 100 lost 0.3%, the Hang Seng was up 0.5% and the Shanghai Composite was little changed.