Stocks Close Flat on Mixed Data

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Many stocks made a piecemeal move to the upside Friday, but the Dow couldn't hold on to its gains after coming off session highs late in the session.

The major indices had turned firmly positive in the early afternoon, largely helped by surging financial names, which appeared relieved on news that congressional leaders finalized a deal on financial reform legislation. But a new spate of mixed data continued puzzling investors about the long-term prognosis of the economic recovery.

After bounding higher and lower throughout today's session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day on a low note, closing 9 points lower, or 0.1%, at 10,144. But the S&P 500 moved 3 points higher, or 0.3%, to 1077, and the Nasdaq added 6 points, or 0.3%, at 2223.

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Today's session also brought an end to an otherwise bedraggled week that saw declines on each of the major averages. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dipped 3.7%, followed by a 3.6% drop on the S&P. The Dow finished lower by 2.9% since last Friday's close.

The government Friday unveiled a slower first-quarter economic growth picture, though a separate assessment suggested a better-than-expected mental outlook in the consumer ranks.

Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald, said the week saw investor sentiment turn darker after a series of disappointing reports demonstrating weakness in housing, alongside a tepid economic assessment from the Federal Reserve. Describing the market tone as a "malaise," he said Friday's data did little to assuage those concerns.

"I think the feeling this week went from optimism entering the second-quarter earnings season, that we would see good numbers, to an economy not doing as well as we thought," Pado said. "There's a real lack of enthusiasm, lack of any catalysts. You don't really see growth on the horizon."

But House and Senate members wrapped up negotiations on an overhaul of banking regulations on Friday, which helped the financial sector today. A vote on the final bill is expected next week.

As he was preparing to attend the G-20 summit in Toronto, President Obama spoke about the legislation.

"We are poised to pass the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression," President Obama said, according to a White House transcript. "The reforms making their way through Congress will hold Wall Street accountable so we can help prevent another financial crisis like the one we're still recovering from."

Overseas on Friday, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.2% lower while Japan's Nikkei declined 1.9%. The FTSE in London shed 1.1%, and the DAX in Frankfurt slumped 0.7%.

The Economy

On Friday, the Commerce Department said first-quarter gross domestic product reflected a rise in its final estimate, albeit at a slower-than-expected pace. Economic growth was revised down to 2.7% in the government's third estimate this morning from 3% in its reading in May, even though economists had expected growth to remain at 3%, according to Briefing.com.

The University of Michigan issued its final report on June consumer sentiment, saying its index registered a 76 in its latest read. The market wasn't expecting a change from the index's previous level of 75.5.
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Company News

With more certainty about financial regulation setting in, financial stocks experienced a relief rally and turned in the best performances on the Dow, with American Express ( AXP), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Bank of America ( BAC) headlining advancers on the average.

But Coca-Cola ( KO), Wal-Mart ( WMT) and Microsoft ( MSFT) had the steepest declines on the Dow.

BP ( BP) said costs of responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have reached $2.35 billion.

KB Home's ( KBH) loss narrowed in the second-quarter, according to morning release, but not as much as the Street had hoped.

In the tech sector, Research In Motion ( RIMM) and Oracle ( ORCL) are in the spotlight today after reporting earnings beats late Thursday. While Oracle highlighted increasing software sales in its earnings release, BlackBerry-maker RIM reported sales that fell short of expectations. Oracle shares improved 2% today, though RIM shares shed 10.8%.

Oppenheimer raised targets and estimates for Apple ( AAPL) on strong iPhone 4 sales. But as the launch kicked off Thursday, reports began to swirl involving antennae and reception issues. Shares traded $2.30 lower, or 0.9%, to finish at $266.70.

In disputing accounts saying its 787 fleet was "grounded," Boeing ( BA) said it would inspect the horizontal stabilizers on its test planes before another round of flights.

Exxon Mobil ( XOM) said it completed its acquisition of XTO Energy ( XTO), according to a release issued today, as XTO shareholders approved the $41 billion deal marking Exxon Mobil's rapid expansion into the natural gas market.

Commodities and the Dollar

Crude oil for August delivery finished $2.35 higher to settle at $78.86 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the August gold contract gained $10.30 to settle at $1,256.20 an ounce.

The dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.6%.

Treasuries

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was ahead 8/32, weakening the yield to 3.108%.

The two-year note rose 2/32, diluting the yield at 0.653%. The 30-year bond advanced 23/32, weakening the yield to 4.060%.

--Written by Sung Moss and Melinda Peer in New York.

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