Stock market finishes, week and month with a whimper but books strong quarterly gains

U.S. stock indexes on Friday struggled to close out the week and month with gains, but produced strong quarterly returns as all three benchmarks clambered back to record territory over the past three months, shaking off tariff tensions to focus on domestic economic health. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.07% eked out a slight 0.1% gain at 26,458, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.00% finished virtually unchanged on the session at 2,914, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.05% also saw a razor-thin climb to close at 8,046. Geopolitical tensions drew some investor focus after Italy’s antiestablishment government significantly widened its budget-deficit target for next year to fund its electoral promises, a move that will likely put it on collision course with the European Union. The issue is the latest that could ultimately impact Wall Street, following a currency crisis in Turkey earlier this summer. In corporate news, Tesla Inc. TSLA, -13.90% shares fell nearly 14% a day after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged its CEO Elon Musk with fraud. On the month, the Dow gained 1.9%, while the S&P 500 posted a monthly gain of 0.4%, while the Nasdaq edged down 0.8%. Over the past three months, the S&P has risen more than 7%, which would be its biggest quarterly advance since the fourth quarter of 2013. The Dow is up about 9%; both the Dow and the S&P have risen in 11 of the past 12 quarters. The Nasdaq is up more than 7% over the quarter, and it is set for its ninth straight quarterly gain. In the latest economic data, consumer spending rose 0.3% in August, the slowest pace since February, while personal income also rose by 0.3%. The 12-month increase in the PCE index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, fell to 2.2%

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