U.S. Stocks Open to the Downside

Updated from 9:20 a.m. EDT

Stocks in New York staged a moderately downbeat open Friday, as traders tackled another round of earnings releases and a fresh set of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 13 points at 9168, and the S&P 500 was shedding 3.7 points to 950. The Nasdaq gave back 16 points to 1683.

On Thursday, the major averages ended a choppy day with gains following the release of a better-than-expected third-quarter GDP number.

Corporate earnings releases were again in focus. Energy company Chevron ( CVX) reported rising profit thanks to high oil prices.

Meanwhile, fast-food restaurant operator Burger King ( BKC) announced income that rose slightly year over year and reaffirmed its forward outlook. Cleaning-products maker Clorox ( CLX) likewise saw a slight rise in earnings for the quarter and affirmed its profit guidance, although it tempered its revenue expectations.

NYSE Euronext ( NYX) reported a 33% year-over-year decrease in profits for the third quarter, but met the Street's expectations.

Elsewhere in the financial sector, British bank Barclays ( BCS) announced plans to raise $11.8 billion from the private sector, thus avoiding participation in the U.K.'s bank-bailout plan.

As for the automakers, Ford ( F) announced it would bring 1,000 workers back to a truck plant in anticipation of high demand for one of its new trucks.

In other automotive news, Nissan ( NSANY) reported a decline in quarterly profit and guided lower for the remainder of the year.

Reuters also reported that talks of a merger between General Motors ( GM) and Chrysler are being pushed back as the Bush administration refused to fund a deal.

Looking at the day's economic data, the Department of Commerce reported that consumer spending declined 0.3% in September after holding steady in July and August. Economists were expecting a 0.2% contraction in spending. Personal income growth registered at 0.2%, ahead of consensus estimates of 0.1% but less than a 0.5% increase in August.

The Department of Labor also said its employment cost index rose 0.7% for the third quarter, a rise that was in line with expectations. Also on tap for release today is the Chicago Purchasing Managers Association's manufacturing survey for October.

Shifting to commodities, crude oil was losing $1.85 to $64.11 a barrel, and gold was down $6.10 to $732.40 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year note was up 30/32 to yield 3.85%, and the 30-year was gaining 1-24/32, yielding 4.23%. The dollar was rising vs. the euro and pound but falling against the yen.

Credit markets continued to improve, as three-month dollar Libor, a measure of the rate banks charge one another for large loans, declined 16 basis points to 3.03%. Overnight Libor dropped 33 basis points to 0.41%.

Across the seas, European exchanges were mixed, as the FTSE in London registered losses and the Dax in Frankfurt was logging gains. As for Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed on the downside.

( Photo gallery: Trading Faces)