Updated from 9:04 a.m. EST
U.S. stocks traded narrowly mixed following Wednesday's opening bell, as the automakers attempted to secure their future by asking Congress for money, and consumer prices and housing starts showed record declines.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
edged up 16 points to 8441, and the
was up 2 points to 861. The
was down 3 points to 1480.
As trading commenced, companies were still trying salve wounds inflicted by the faltering economy.
After arriving hat in hand on Capitol Hill Tuesday to plead their case for access to federal funding, chief executives of woebegone
will attempt again Wednesday to exchange a grilling by members of Congress for billions of dollars in government aid. The Big Three have been walloped lately by a combination of flagging sales, troubles in their finance divisions and high labor costs.
As General Motors continued to scrape for cash, German solar firm
announced plans to buy assets of GM's German segment,
The U.S. auto companies weren't the only ones coping with a tough market.
said it will cut production in North American plants and lay off 250 of its temporary workers.
, which along with GM is a component of the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
, is resetting its production schedule as it attempts to recover from a strike by its machinists' union, according to a report by
The Wall Street Journal
Meanwhile, industrial conglomerate and fellow Dow company
said it would reorganize its GE Capital finance branch to cut costs.
Elsewhere, government-controlled mortgage firm
( FNM) received notice from the
New York Stock Exchange
that it faces delisting if it can't keep its share price above $1.
In earnings news, bulk retailer
reported rising third-quarter profit that was aided by gasoline sales.
, Goldman Sachs put BlackBerry maker
Research In Motion
( RIMM) on its conviction buy list.
On the economic-data front, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that its
consumer price index
fell 1% for October thanks in part to falling energy prices. The CPI's decline was its largest on record. Economists were expecting a decline of 0.8%. The core rate dropped 0.1%, following a 0.1% uptick in September.
Separately, the Census Bureau said that
declined 4.5% to an annual rate of 791,000 for October, the largest one-month decline since the government began tracking the figures.
Minutes from the Oct. 29 meeting of the
Open Market Committee are due out later today.
In the realm of commodities, crude oil was adding 3 cents to $54.42 a barrel. Gold was adding $8.70 to $741.40 an ounce.
Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year note was up 14/32 to yield 3.47%, and the 30-year was gaining 28/32, yielding 4.06%. The dollar was climbing vs. the yen but weakening against the euro and pound.
Overseas, the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were both trading lower. In
, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed with losses.