NEW YORK — Better results from retailers and demand for telecommunications shares helped push the stock market to a small gain on Friday.
Telecoms rose the most among the 10 industries in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Their jump followed news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway made a new investment in Verizon Communications. Other big-name investors, including John Paulson, also reportedly took stakes. Verizon climbed $1.11, or 2 percent, to $49.07.
Major indexes spent much of the day meandering around the break-even mark.
“We’ve had a lot of starts and stops recently,” said Dan Cook, a director at Nadex, an exchange in Chicago. “We’re at high levels, so it’s a time to be cautious.”
Investors said the choppy trading reflects a larger uncertainty. The stock market is trading near record highs, but investors see little reason for excitement. Earlier in the week, the S&P 500 index notched all-time highs two days in a row. On Thursday, mixed economic news and a weak earnings report from Wal-Mart Stores drove the market to its worst day in more than a month.
Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, said traders have spotted some market warning signs. For instance, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note recently dropped to its lowest point this year. That’s usually a sign of an economic slowdown.