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BENGALURU: The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell on Friday, as a decline in megacap stocks overshadowed upbeat quarterly earnings from some of the largest US banks. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup rose between 2.5% and 3.4% after their quarterly profits trounced analysts’ estimates, helped by higher interest rates.

The S&P 500 Banks index gained 1.9%, hitting a three-week high intraday. Megapcaps including Apple, Alphabet, Tesla, Nvidia, Amazon.com and Meta Platforms slid between 0.9% and 2.3%.

A preliminary reading on US consumer sentiment that showed a sharp fall in October also pressured equities. Meanwhile, safe-haven US Treasuries rallied on Friday as investors kept a tab on developments in the conflict in the Middle East that has unnerved markets since the start of the week.

Other traditional safe-haven assets such as gold were also trading higher. Countries have urged Israel to hold off on plans for an all-out assault on northern Gaza, where more than a million civilians largely defied its order to evacuate before it goes after Hamas who slaughtered Israelis a week ago.

“The tragic events that are going on in the Middle East at the moment have the potential to disregard (current market trends) because if we see an escalation there, then there’s a chance for a further rally in risk-free assets,” said Niall O’ Sullivan, chief investment officer multi-asset strategies EMEA at Neuberger Berman.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Patrick Harker said he believes the central bank is likely done with its rate-hiking cycle amid waning price pressures.

At 12:21 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 95.34 points, or 0.28%, at 33,726.48, the S&P 500 was down 11.34 points, or 0.26%, at 4,338.27, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 131.31 points, or 0.97%, at 13,442.91.

The energy sector tracked a more than 3% jump in crude prices and led the gains among major S&P 500 sectors.

It was also poised to be the top weekly performer. The S&P 500 and the Dow eyed weekly gains despite recent weakness. Among stocks, asset manager BlackRock dipped 1.1% after posting a sharp drop in third-quarter net inflows.

UnitedHealth advanced 2.2% after beating third-quarter profit estimates. Dollar General added 10.2% after the discount store retailer brought back former CEO Todd Vasos to replace Chief Executive Jeffery Owen.

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