US stocks flit between small gains and losses

US stocks flit between gains and losses on mixed economic news; BlackBerry maker plunges

Associated Press
US stocks fall in quiet end to a bumpy month
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FILE - In this Tuesday, May 28, 2013, file photo, specialist Jason Hardzewicz, left, works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. World stock markets were boosted Friday June 28, 2013 by encouraging indicators from Japan and further proof that the U.S. economy is on the upswing. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks were flitting between small gains and losses on Friday, a calm end to the most volatile trading month in nearly two years.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 39 points, or 0.3 percent, to 14,986 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index was up less than one point to 1,614.

Investors seemed unsure how to react to recent statements by Federal Reserve officials about the central bank support's for the economy. Mixed economic news Friday added to investor uncertainty after big stock gains so far this year.

"It's a dull Friday," said Gary Flam, a stock manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors. A bull market, he added, is "rarely a straight march up."

The S&P 500 index is still on track to end its best first half of a year since 1998, when it gained 17.7 percent, including dividends. The index has gained 14.3 percent so far this year.

On Friday, consumer confidence was up but a key gauge of business activity in the Chicago area plunged.

"Investors don't know what to make of the news," said John Toohey, vice president of stock investment at USAA Investments. "I wouldn't be surprised to see more ups and downs."

The University of Michigan said its index of consumer sentiment dipped to 84.1 in June from 84.5 the previous month. But that was still relatively high. May's reading was the highest since July 2007.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Business Barometer sank to 51.6 from a 14-month high of 58.7 in May. That was well below the level of 55 that economists polled by FactSet were expecting.

The Dow gained 365 points over the previous three days this week as investors jumped back into the market following a slump last week. That's when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the central bank could begin scaling back on its economic stimulus program later this year, providing the economy continues to recover. Since then, other top Fed officials have stressed that the Fed wouldn't pull back its support too soon.

The Dow has had 15 triple-digit moves in June, the most since October 2011.

The Nasdaq composite index was up 13 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,414.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.49 percent from 2.47 percent late Thursday. Last month, the yield fell as low as 1.63 percent. Treasury yields help set borrowing costs for a range of consumer and business loans.

In commodities trading, gold gained $12.10 to $1,223.70 an ounce. The price of crude oil fell 49 cents to $96.56 a barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.

Among stocks making big moves:

— BlackBerry maker Research In Motion plunged $3.97, or 26 percent, to $11.08 after the company posted a surprise loss in the first quarter and warned of future losses despite releasing its make-or-break smartphones this year. The company also discontinued making new versions of its slow-selling tablet device, The Playbook.

— Accenture fell $8.22, or 10 percent, to $72. The consulting firm cut its revenue and profit outlook for its fiscal year ending in August. Revenue was hurt by lower demand in Europe as well as its communications, media and technology division.

In overseas trading, Japanese stocks rose on news that a key consumer price index stopped falling for the first time in seven months, a sign that the world's third-largest economy is making progress in its battle against deflation. The government also reported that industrial production rose 2 percent, a fourth straight monthly increase. The benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 3.5 percent.

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