Stocks Finish Mixed on Consumer Sentiment Disappointment


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks finished mixed Friday, with the Dow snapping its seven-day winning streak, after a disappointing read on consumer sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 20.1 points, or 0.2%, at 13,233. The S&P 500 was up 1.6 points, or 0.1%, at 1404, after the index closed above 1400 for the first time in almost four years on Thursday. The Nasdaq was down 1.1 points, or 0.04%, to 3055.

A measure of consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan disappointed the market, coming in at 74.3 in March after a reading of 75.3 in February. According to Thomson Reuters, economists were looking for a rise to 76. The dip came as expectations for inflation ticked higher in light of rising gas prices.

Earlier, the Labor Department reported that its consumer price index rose 0.4% in February, higher than the expected 0.2% gain, according to Thomson Reuters, following a 0.2% increase in the prior month. Excluding gas and food prices, the core figure inched up 0.1%, easing fears of inflationary pressure outside of energy prices. Economists had forecast a 0.2% gain in prices.

"Gasoline was actually responsible for 80% of the headline increase... food at home, our proxy for supermarket prices, was unchanged for the second month in a row," noted Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist with BTIG. "As a result of the data, the year-over-year change in core prices slowed to 2.2%, the first decline in the year-over-year rate after not decreasing in fifteen consecutive months."

The Federal Reserve reported that industrial production in February stayed put when economists had expected a 0.4% improvement. January's figures however were upwardly revised to 0.4% after it was originally reported to have been unchanged. The Fed's reading on capacity utilization stayed about the same at a level of 78.7%.

Germany's DAX closed up 0.19% on Friday while London's FTSE finished 0.42% higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down 0.17% while the Nikkei Average in Japan finished up 0.06%.


In corporate news, ReneSola ( SOL) reported a fourth-quarter loss of 21 cents a share on revenue of $187.7 million compared with the average analyst estimate of loss of 30 cents a share on revenue of $137.8 million. Shares surged 14.2% to $2.81.

United Parcel Service ( UPS) said Friday it was in "constructive" talks to buy TNT Express, its Dutch rival. UPS said it plans a formal bid by May 12. UPS last month offered to buy TNT, the second-largest express delivery company in Europe, for €9 a share, or $6.4 billion, but the offer was rejected. UPS shares were down 0.7% to $78.41.

Barclays PLC's Barclays Capital unit, Credit Suisse ( CS) and Goldman Sachs ( GS) are among the banks interested in buying American International Group's ( AIG) complex mortgage-backed assets tied to the insurance company's bailout, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The face value of the assets is $47 billion, according to the WSJ. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York holds the assets as part of the $182 billion bailout of AIG in 2008. AIG shares were down 0.2% to $28.03.

April oil futures closed up $1.95 to $107.06. In other commodities, April gold futures settled down $3.70 to $1,655.80 an ounce.

The dollar index was 0.5% lower. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 11/32 pushing the yield to 2.318%.

-- Written by Andrea Tse and Chao Deng in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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