U.S. stocks little changed as investors monitor economic data

U.S. stocks were little changed, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index on pace for a weekly decline, as investors watched economic and earnings reports.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the largest U.S. tiremaker, dropped 11 percent after reporting a profit that was below estimates. VeriSign Inc., an operator of Web domain name registries, tumbled 16 percent after saying regulators have delayed a review of the company’s contract for that business. Expedia Inc. surged 15 percent as the online travel agency reported third-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ estimates.

The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent to 1,411.93 at 3:50 p.m. New York time, after dropping as much as 0.7 percent earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.92 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 13,105.60. Trading in S&P 500 companies was 4.5 percent lower than the 30-day average at this time of day.

“You’re getting a mix of data that don’t have a clear direction,” said Stephen Wood, the New York-based chief market strategist for North America for Russell Investments, which oversees $152 billion. “It’s important for investors’ psychology to see GDP data beating estimates. Yet the earnings season has been a very challenging one.”

The benchmark measure for American equities is poised to snap a four-month rally amid concern about corporate profits. The S&P 500 has slumped 1.9 percent so far in October. Third- quarter earnings at 71 percent of the index’s companies beat estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales missed forecasts at 59 percent of companies, the data showed.

Economic Data

The economy in the U.S. expanded more than forecast in the third quarter, paced by a pickup in consumer spending, a rebound in government outlays and gains in residential construction. Separately, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index consumer sentiment for October increased to 82.6 from 78.3 the prior month. Economists projected 83 for the gauge after a preliminary October reading of 83.1, according to the median forecast of 60 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Concern about a worsening of Europe’s debt crisis grew after German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble reportedly said there are doubts on whether Greece will meet requirements for its European bailout.

“There’s still concern about Europe,” said Thomas Garcia, head of equity trading at Santa Fe, New Mexico-based Thornburg Investment Management Inc. His firm oversees about $80 billion. “You have Greek debt crisis, problems in Spain and other areas. The market is going to be back and forth until those guys get things figured out over there.”

Seven out of 10 groups in the S&P 500 advanced as financial, health-care and consumer-staple companies had the only losses.

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