Stocks waver after data shows growth remains slow
Signs of slowing growth in manufacturing kept investors' enthusiasm in check Friday as the final quarter of the year got under way.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22 points in late morning trading after the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index fell modestly in September. Activity was still expanding at U.S. factories but at a slightly lower pace. Manufacturers including Boeing Co., General Electric Co. and 3M Co. rose around 1 percent.
Stocks had jumped after the opening bell on signs of strong growth in Chinese manufacturing. Traders were sorting through other reports suggesting that U.S. economic growth remains sluggish.
Personal income and spending both rose more than expected in August, with incomes jumping by the fastest pace in eight months. However, the savings rate climbed, an indication that spending might not climb much in the near future. Consumer sentiment was better than initially thought in September, but still not quite as strong as it was in August.
Taken together, the batch of U.S. economic reports point to "very slow growth," said Bob Enck, president and CEO of Equinox Fund Management. "It tells us there's still uncertainty."
Stock indexes gave up early gains and were muddling higher by late morning. The Dow rose 22.41, or 0.2 percent, to 10.811.21, having been up as much as 78 points earlier.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.74, or 0.2 percent, to 1,142.94. The S&P 500 again touched the 1,150 level in early trading Friday, but was unable to hold above that threshold. It was the sixth straight day the S&P came within or breached 1,150, a level it has not closed above since early May.
The Nasdaq fell 2.67, or 0.1 percent, to 2,365.95.
In corporate news, Hewlett-Packard Co. dropped after the computer company named Leo Apotheker, the former head of business software maker SAP AG, its new CEO. Shares fell $1.18, or 2.8 percent, to $40.89.
United and Continental closed a deal to create the world's biggest airline Friday. Shares of the newly combined company, United Continental Holdings Inc., jumped 96 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $24.62.
Boeing shares rose 68 cents to $67.22. GE climbed 8 cents to $16.33, while 3M rose 45 cents to $87.16.
About four stocks rose for every three that fell on the New York Stock Exchange where volume came to 296.9 million shares.
Bond prices and interest rates were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is a benchmark for interest rates on mortgages and other loans, held steady at 2.51 percent compared with late Thursday.