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Stocks slip on consumer spending, sentiment data

Ken Sweet, AP Markets Writer

Trader John Santiago, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, May 30, 2014. Two negative reports on U.S. consumers were pushing stocks lower in early trading Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks were heading toward a muddled close Friday as investors reacted to two negative economic reports that focused on U.S. consumers. Lions Gate Entertainment plunged after the movie studio known best for "The Hunger Games" reported a steep drop off in quarterly income.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was little changed at 16,700 as of 3:34 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was unchanged at 1,920 and the Nasdaq composite lost 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,235. The S&P 500 closed at a recorded high on Thursday.

NO SALE: Consumer spending unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent in April, according to the Commerce Department. The drop was the first in a year, but economists expect it to be temporary.

In a separate report, the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index fell more than analysts were expecting. The index fell to 81.9 in May from 84.9 in April. Economists had expected 82.8.

"The reports were lackluster at best," said Karyn Cavanaugh, a market strategist with Voya Investment Management, formerly known as ING Investment Management.

MAY GOES AWAY: Friday is the last trading day of May, which has been a relatively strong month for markets. The S&P 500 is up 1.8 percent, which would be its best month since February. The Nasdaq is up 2.9 percent and the Dow is up 0.5 percent. Since it was a holiday-shortened week, trading volume has been light. Roughly 2.1 billion shares have exchanged hands on the New York Stock Exchange, well below the 3.4 billion done on a typical day.

LIONS GATE LOCKED OUT: Lions Gate Entertainment dropped $3.48, or 12 percent, to $26.05 after reporting a profit of 35 cents per share, a 70 percent drop from the year before and well below what analysts had expected.

SOLAR ECLIPSE: Sunglasses retailer Pacific Sunwear dropped 52 cents, or 17 percent, to $2.42. The company warned investors that would report a two-cent loss this quarter versus the two-cent profit that analysts had expected.

SLOW LANE: Clothing chain Express sank $1.23, or 10 percent, to $12.40 after the company also cut its full-year forecast. Express also said it plans to close roughly 50 stores.

BONDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was little changed at 2.47 percent. Bond yields are the near their lows for the year thanks to strong demand from foreign and U.S. buyers.

"If we were in a normal bond market, these yields would signal weakness in the U.S. economy," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "But I think what's going on is more of a temporary phenomenon."