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Stocks Close Flat on Mixed Data

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Many stocks made a piecemeal move to the upside Friday, but the Dow couldn't hold on to its gains after coming off session highs late in the session.

The major indices had turned firmly positive in the early afternoon, largely helped by surging financial names, which appeared relieved on news that congressional leaders finalized a deal on financial reform legislation. But a new spate of mixed data continued puzzling investors about the long-term prognosis of the economic recovery.

After bounding higher and lower throughout today's session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day on a low note, closing 9 points lower, or 0.1%, at 10,144. But the S&P 500 moved 3 points higher, or 0.3%, to 1077, and the Nasdaq added 6 points, or 0.3%, at 2223.

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Today's session also brought an end to an otherwise bedraggled week that saw declines on each of the major averages. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dipped 3.7%, followed by a 3.6% drop on the S&P. The Dow finished lower by 2.9% since last Friday's close.

The government Friday unveiled a slower first-quarter economic growth picture, though a separate assessment suggested a better-than-expected mental outlook in the consumer ranks.

Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald, said the week saw investor sentiment turn darker after a series of disappointing reports demonstrating weakness in housing, alongside a tepid economic assessment from the Federal Reserve. Describing the market tone as a "malaise," he said Friday's data did little to assuage those concerns.

"I think the feeling this week went from optimism entering the second-quarter earnings season, that we would see good numbers, to an economy not doing as well as we thought," Pado said. "There's a real lack of enthusiasm, lack of any catalysts. You don't really see growth on the horizon."

But House and Senate members wrapped up negotiations on an overhaul of banking regulations on Friday, which helped the financial sector today. A vote on the final bill is expected next week.

As he was preparing to attend the G-20 summit in Toronto, President Obama spoke about the legislation.

"We are poised to pass the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression," President Obama said, according to a White House transcript. "The reforms making their way through Congress will hold Wall Street accountable so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one we're still recovering from."

Overseas on Friday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.2% lower while Japan's Nikkei declined 1.9%. The FTSE in London shed 1.1%, and the DAX in Frankfurt slumped 0.7%.
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