US stocks move between small gains and losses

Christina Rexrode, AP Business Writer
Stocks slide on a quiet day, end down for the week

FILE - In this Friday, June 29, 2012 file photo, specialists Frank Masello, left, and John T. O'Hara work on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York shortly before the closing bell. Global stock markets were choppy Friday Aug. 9, 2013 after China reported improved but still tepid economic data. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks moved between the tiniest of gains and losses on Friday morning. Trading volume was light, typical of an August Friday, and there was little economic news to move the market.

In morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,475. The Standard & Poor's 500 was down a point at 1,695. The Nasdaq composite was up a fraction at 3,669.

"There's no specific culprit here, but the market seems to be tired," said Robbert Van Batenburg, director of market strategy at Newedge in New York. "There's not a lot of people at their desks."

J.C. Penney shares fell 4 percent as the department store chain was pressed by its largest shareholder, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, to find a permanent CEO. The stock fell 56 cents to $13.10.

Economic data from China came in, for the most part, better than expected, with inflation steady and industrial production up. The effect on the overall market was muted, but commodities-dependent companies, such as Peabody Energy and fertilizer maker Mosaic, were higher. Van Batenburg cautioned that the news, which followed Thursday reports of China's rebounding trade, didn't signal that the world's second-largest economy is healed.

"It's one data point, it's not a panacea," Van Batenburg said. "I think the jury is still out on China"

The week has been largely disappointing for investors. Thursday, when the China trade data was released, was the only day so far that the S&P 500 ended higher, and the rest of the week has been shaped by unimpressive company earnings.

Profits at S&P 500 companies have been up less than 5 percent in the second quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ. At the beginning of the year, analysts were expecting 9 percent.

Even that earnings increase has been built not on business growth but on cost-cutting. Revenue is down 0.5 percent so far this quarter.

The S&P 500 is headed for its first weekly loss in seven weeks. It closed at a record high of 1,709 a week ago.

Among stocks making big moves:

— BlackBerry jumped after Reuters reported that the company may be growing more amenable to going private. The stock rose 58 cents, or 6 percent, to $9.70.

— Priceline.com rose a day after the travel website announced earnings that trumped analyst expectations. Priceline rose $46.95, or 5 percent, to $980.93. If the stock goes above $1,000, it would be the first in the S&P 500 to do so.