Dow Misses 13,000 Amid Weak Volume
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks finished near the flat line Friday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average again failing to close above 13,000 after breaking the level several times during intraday trading this week.
Encouraging economic news helped stocks rise earlier in the session, but buying momentum quickly faded by mid-afternoon. The New York Stock Exchange saw 3.3 billion shares change hands, while the Nasdaq volume totaled 3.6 billion.
The mixed close further confirmed that equities may be approaching a pullback. "We see the major indices falling 3% to 5% over the next month, before resuming their uptrend, which we think will take the major averages to new recovery highs by the second half of the second quarter," wrote Mark Arbeter, technical strategist with S&P Capital IQ, in commentary on Friday afternoon.
The final University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters index of consumer sentiment for February came in at 75.3, up a fraction of a point from the prior month to reach its highest level since February 2011. Economists expected a drop in the reading to 73 according to a Thomson Reuters survey. The preliminary read on consumer sentiment in February was 72.5.
"The strong gains in household confidence is quite encouraging," said Millan Mulraine, senior U.S. strategist, TD Securities. "However, we are somewhat concerned about the sustainability of this rebound as higher gasoline prices could play an important role in dampening confidence toward the economy."
Also on Friday, new home sales for January surpassed expectations, according to the Census Bureau. Sales fell 0.9% to a 321,000 annual pace from an upwardly-revised 324,000 rate in December, beating the consensus expectation for sales of 315,000.
Germany's DAX closed up 0.81% while London's FTSE settled down 0.05% after the Office for National Statistics confirmed that the United Kingdom's economy shrank 0.2% in the fourth quarter due to a fall in business investment. Full-year expansion was also downwardly revised to 0.8%. Japan's Nikkei Average settled up 0.54% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up 0.12%.
The euro gained more than $1.34 against the dollar for the first time since Dec. 9 as the markets anticipated more liquidity measures from the European Central Bank in the coming week. The gains in the euro also came amid a seemingly better situation in Greece.
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In corporate news, insurance giant AIG(AIG) reported fourth-quarter net income of $19.8 billion, boosted by a gain of $17.7 billion related to the release of a deferred tax asset valuation allowance. Operating profit in the quarter was 82 cents a share. Analysts were looking for 63 cents. Shares were rising 1.5% to $28.41.