Stocks tick higher in early trade; S&P, Nasdaq score new records

Meanwhile the Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 4.31 points, or 0.2%, to 2,550.93 and the Dow Jones industrial average slid 31.88 points, or 0.1%, to 22,841.01. The focus will now shift to JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, which report results on Thursday, with analysts warning that bank results will largely be held back by a lack of volatility, compared with a year earlier.

But Wells Fargo tumbled 2.8 per cent after it reported lower-than-expected revenue for the fourth straight quarter due to a decline in mortgage banking revenue. The S&P 500 ended 0.1% higher at 2,553.17, registering a 0.2% weekly gain-its fifth a row.

Centene sank 4.44 per cent, Molina Healthcare dropped 3.93 per cent and Anthem fell 4.42 per cent.

AT&T had its worst one-day loss since 2008 after it said lost more satellite and cable TV subscribers in the third quarter.

The S&P 600 Small-Cap Index closed at 909.43 for a loss of 1.11 points or 0.12%.

Jobless claims decreased by 15,000 to 243,000.

In Asia, share markets were subdued on Friday in morning session after Wall Street slipped as investors awaited the release of China trade data during the session.

The Producer Price Index increased 0.4% for the month and 2.6% for the year. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi hovered around the flat line, trading just 0.02% higher.

Gains in Wal-Mart and Johnson & Johnson nudged the Dow Jones Industrial Average to another record level on Wednesday, but the broader market was sluggish ahead of big bank earnings.

In China, Shanghai Composite Index added 0.02%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 0.16%.

Vanessa Coleman