NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages slumped Friday as persistent worries about the ability of the U.S. to avert the so-called fiscal cliff and deep losses in Apple (AAPL - Get Report) shares overshadowed encouraging Chinese manufacturing and U.S. industrial output data.
Analysts were also playing a part in Apple's decline, with UBS analyst Steven Milunovich cutting his price target to $700 from $780 on lower-than-expected iPhone and iPad shipments in the first calendar quarter.
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met Thursday night at the White House to discuss the U.S. budget, their first in-person meeting in four days.Statements from the White House and Boehner's office both described the talks as "frank," adding that the "lines of communication remain open." "Enthusiasm for equities continues to be tempered by the lack of progress by the White House and Congress on the fiscal cliff negotiations," said Addison Armstrong, senior director of market research at Tradition Energy. Michael Lewis, global head of commodities research at Deutsche Bank, said despite the Fed's implementation of QE4, "the market remains focused on the potential adverse liquidity impact of the U.S. fiscal cliff." "Furthermore, the Fed's targeting of U.S. unemployment as a tool to gauge monetary accommodation could be taken as hawkish given the apparent decline in U.S. unemployment over the past year," added Lewis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was fell 36 points, or 0.27%, at 13,135. Friday's dip left the blue-chip index down 0.15% for the week. Breadth was negative, with laggards outpacing advancers 19 to 11. American Express (AXP), Microsoft (MSFT) and Merck (MRK) and Disney (DIS) were laggards. Alcoa (AA), Caterpillar (CAT), Cisco (CSCO) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) were the top percentage blue-chip gainers. United Technologies (UTX) shares lost 0.52% after the company provided a 2013 profit outlook of between $5.85 a share and $6.15 a share and sales of between $64 billion to $65 billion; analysts are looking for earnings of $6.12 a share on revenue of $66.4 billion. The S&P 500 fell 6 points, or 0.41%, at 1414. The S&P shed 0.32% for the week. The Nasdaq decreased 21 points, or 0.70%, at 2971. The tech-heavy index dipped 0.23% for the week. The technology sector sank 0.95%. Sector decliners in the broader market also included utilities, health care and energy. Basic materials, conglomerates and transportation were among the sector gainers. Decliners edged advancers 1.1-to-1 on the Big Board, and incrementally on the Nasdaq. Volumes totaled 3.19 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.80 billion shares on the Nasdaq. In economic news Friday on China, the world's second largest economy, the HSBC December flash purchasing managers' index for the country expanded to a 14-month high of 50.9, exhibiting five consecutive months of increases. A reading above 50 signifies growth. "China's growth has a domestic edge to it, while the Japanese growth is reflecting weakness in international demand," noted Paul Donovan, global economist at UBS. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve reported Friday that industrial production rose 1.1% in November following a downwardly revised 0.7% decline in October. Capacity utilization rose to 78.4% from a downwardly revised 77.7% Economists, on average, had predicted that industrial production would rise 0.3% in November and capacity utilization would increase to 78%. "While much of the rebound could be attributed to the bounce-back from the Hurricane Sandy impact, the strong surge in the production of motor vehicles and machinery (after four months of weakness) suggest that overall demand (both for consumer and investment goods) is beginning to enjoy a period of rebound," said Millan Mulraine, an economic strategist at TD Securities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the consumer price index fell 0.3% in November, down from a 0.1% rise in October. Economists forecast a 0.2% decline. The core CPI rose 0.1%, down from a 0.2% increase the prior month. The consensus expectation was for a 0.2% increase. European markets traded mixed as eurozone manufacturing PMI data missed expectations, Germany's December composite output PMI increased to 50.5 and Standard & Poor's slashed its outlook on the U.K.'s triple-A rating to negative from stable. The FTSE 100 in London closed down 0.13% and the DAX in Germany finished up 0.19%. Japan's Nikkei average closed down 0.05% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index settled up by 0.71%. Gold for February delivery closed up 20 cents at $1,697 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while January crude oil contracts rose 84 cents to settle at $86.73 a barrel. The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 9/32 to dilute the yield to 1.706%. The dollar was down 0.44%, according to the
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