U.S. Markets closed

Stocks little changed as investors wait on budget

Steve Rothwell, AP Business Writer

FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2012 file photo, traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Uncertainty over whether U.S. leaders can resolve a critical budget deadlock and figures showing the eurozone's unemployment rate at a record high capped any gains to be made in the markets Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are little changed in morning trading Friday as lawmakers seek to thrash out a budget agreement. The government also reported that consumer spending fell in October.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose six points to 13,028 as of 11:13 a.m. Eastern. The Standard and Poor's 500 was down 0.4 points to 1,415. The Nasdaq composite was down five points to 3,007.

Stocks are slightly higher for the week. The Dow is up 0.2 percent, the S&P 500 index 0.4 percent. The market has fluctuated between gains and losses in recent days as news and comments filtered out from the budget negotiations in Washington.

Investors have been closely following the talks between the White House and Congress over the "fiscal cliff," which refers to sharp government spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to start Jan. 1 unless an agreement is reached to cut the budget deficit. Economists say that those measures, if implemented, could push the U.S. economy back into a recession.

"Right now the market is just going to be held hostage as to what happens in the next five hours, versus what's going to happen in the next five years," said Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Management, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Americans cut back on spending last month and saw no growth in their income, reflecting disruption from Superstorm Sandy that could hold back economic growth in the final months of the year.

The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in October. That's down from an increase of 0.8 percent in September and the weakest showing since May.

Among stocks making big moves:

—Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, fell $6.90 to $67.58. The fast-food operator reported disappointing sales and earnings forecasts. An analyst recommended that investors sell the stock.

—Zynga, the maker of computer games including "Farmville" and "Cityville," fell 17 cents to $2.45 after the company said late Thursday that it was loosening its relationship with Facebook.

—VerSign plunged $5.50 to $33.83 after the company announced the terms of its new contract to run the key directories that keep track of ".com" domain names. The company won't be allowed to raise prices on the registration of such names without government approval.

—Duke Energy rose $1.10 to $63.49 after the company said its CEO will step down as part of a settlement with the North Carolina utilities regulator that ends an investigation into the company's takeover of in-state rival Progress Energy.