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Weak Earnings Reports Weigh On The Stock Market

JOSHUA FREED

Stocks closed mostly lower Friday after investors found little to like in weak corporate earnings reports and news of only tepid growth in the U.S. economy in the third quarter.

The Dow Jones industrial average managed a gain of 3.53 points to close at 13,107.21 after spending much of the day in the red.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.03 points to 1,411.94 and the Nasdaq composite rose 1.83 points to 2,987.95.

Stocks rose in the morning before a mild midday sell-off, then recovered somewhat in the afternoon.

The morning gains came after the Commerce Department estimated that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2 percent annual rate from July through September. That was better than the previous quarter, and better than analysts expected, but not strong enough to bring down the unemployment rate.

Even economic data that is mixed or positive won't outweigh weak earnings, said Lawrence Creatura, a portfolio manager with Federated Investors. Reports like the one on Friday that measure gross domestic product tend to be backwards-looking, while companies are offering forecasts about the months ahead, he said.

"Company earnings trump macro data. Because investors own Apple, they don't own GDP," Creatura said.

Apple fell $5.54 to $604 after saying its profit will decline this holiday season.

Even with Friday's rise, stocks lost ground this week, inflecting a sort of death-by-a-thousand-cuts on the rally that began in September. The Dow was down 236.30 points for the week, or 1.8 percent. The S&P has fallen 21.25 points, or 1.5 percent.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber sank 10 percent after a steep dropoff in sales in Europe delivered a blow to its earnings. The stock fell $1.28 to $11.02.

The advertising conglomerate Interpublic also turned in results that fell short of analysts' forecasts, and its stock fell 2.5 percent, or 26 cents, to $10.29.

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