Updated from 2:52 p.m. EDT
U.S. stocks faltered at the open Friday and then sold off as several data releases tempered expectations for future economic growth. Technology shares were suffering after a quarterly loss from PC maker
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was losing 130 points to 11,586, and the
was falling 13 points to 1288. The
was down 38 points at 2373.
On Thursday, the three major indices posted solid gains following an upward revision of the government's estimates for second-quarter GDP growth, a decline in weekly jobless claims and softening crude-oil prices. But after the market close Thursday,
a 17% year-over-year drop in earnings, sending shares on a 10% decline.
Elsewhere in technology, software titan
said it would buy Greenfield Online for $486 million as part of a plan to bolster its online-services business.
will proceed with its planned advertising partnership with fellow Internet search company
, even as the Justice Department investigates the arrangement.
Outside the technology space, automaker
recalled 944,000 cars and trucks because of an electrical problem in their windshield wipers.
In commodities news, the price of crude oil finished down 13 cents at $115.46 a barrel. Fear of devastation by Gustav, a storm heading toward the Gulf of Mexico, was prompting companies such as
to press ahead with evacuations of some area refineries.
Michael Strauss, chief economist for Commonfund, said the markets look to be pricing in a delay of about two weeks in oil production. He said that inventory positions on balance probably leave the industry adequately prepared for such an event.
As for economic data, the Department of Commerce said that July personal incomes shrank 0.7%, a weaker reading than economists' forecast of a 0.2% decline. Personal spending rose 0.2%, as analysts had expected.
The Chicago purchasing managers' regional survey for August came in at 57.9, ahead of analyst expectations and up from a July look of 50.8. The consumer sentiment index from the University of Michigan was at 63, up from 61.7 in the prior month and one point ahead of economists' forecasts.
Strauss said that, for the second quarter, "GDP was obviously saved in part by the stimulus package, and that game is now over." He said that Friday's consumer spending number suggests that spending, which accounts for two-thirds of GDP, might be negative for the third quarter. "On balance, it looks like the third quarter is a very weak quarter."
Similarly, Strauss said that the Chicago PMI data reflect resumption of auto plant activity after a strike at
. "It's nice to see we got a nice bounce, but it might be an overstated print."
Today's data weren't surprising but did offer confirmation that the U.S. economy faces demand-side challenges, said Strauss. He said that one bright spot in a consumer slowdown is continued demand destruction on the energy side. Without the threat of Gustav, energy prices would probably continue to soften, he said.
Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were softening. The 10-year was down 9/32 in price, yielding 3.81%, and the 30-year was losing 25/32 to yield 4.42%. The dollar was gaining on the euro and the pound but weakening vs. the yen. Gold fell $2 to $835.20 an ounce.
Global markets were mainly trading higher, as the FTSE in London, the Dax in Frankfurt, the Nikkei in Japan and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong were all higher.