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Stocks end the week flat on disappointing economic news

Hot Stock Minute

Stocks ended the week marginally lower on two pieces of disappointing economic news. The Dow (^DJI)  closed down 42 points to 16,067 while the Nasdaq (^IXIC) ended the day down 15 points, closing at 4,245. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) finsihed the session down five points at 1,841. The U.S. producer price index declined 0.1% in February versus expectations of an increase of 0.2%. Also, consumer sentiment declined to 79.9 in early March from 81.6 last month. That’s its lowest since November. The decline was blamed on the cold weather and snow across much of the country.

General Motors (GM) is being pressured to compensate victims of faulty ignition switches that lead to a recall of 1.6 million vehicles and that GM has linked to 12 deaths. The company recalled six models last month, but is alleged to have known about the problem - ignition switches that turn off while the car is running and then disable airbags – as early as 2001. The New York Times reported that an independent study links 303 deaths to two of the recalled models. GM criticizes the methodology of that report. Under the terms of GM’s bankruptcy, some plaintiffs might be barred from suing the automaker over anything that happened before July 2009. Two advocacy groups, the Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen wrote to GM CEO Mary Barra urging the company to create a $1 billion trust to compensate victims. Shares of General Motors ended the day up less than a percent.

Disney’s (DIS) Frozen is poised to be the top-selling animated feature of all time. The film has already grossed $1.01 billion in worldwide ticket sales. It opens in its final major market, Japan, this weekend and could overtake Toy Story 3, the current top-grossing animated film which made $1.06 billion at the box office. Though Pixar is now owned by Disney, the Disney animation studio was often overshadowed by hits from Pixar like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Frozen opened November 22 and would have to earn $53 million in ticket sales to dethrone Toy Story 3.