Business Finance » Finance

Stocks Little Changed as Investors Wait on Budget

by Steve Rothwell
Friday Nov 30, 2012

NEW YORK - Stocks are little changed in early trading as lawmakers seek to thrash out a budget agreement. The government reported that consumer spending fell in October.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 24 points to 13,045 as of 10:25 a.m. Eastern. The Standard and Poor's 500 was up 0.9 points to 1,417. The Nasdaq composite was down two points to 3,010.

Stocks are slightly higher for the week. The Dow is up 0.3 percent, the S&P 500 index 0.6 percent. The market has fluctuated between gains and losses in recent days as news and comments filtered out from the budget negotiations in Washington.

Investors have been closely following the talks between the White House and Congress over the "fiscal cliff," which refers to sharp government spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to start Jan. 1. Economists say that those measures, if implemented, would push the U.S. economy back into a recession.

"Right now the market is just going to be held hostage as to what happens in the next five hours, versus what's going to happen in the next five years," said Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Management, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Americans cut back on spending last month and saw no growth in their income, reflecting disruption from Superstorm Sandy that could hold back economic growth in the final months of the year.

The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in October. That's down from an increase of 0.8 percent in September and the weakest showing since May.

Among stocks making big moves:

-Yum Brands, which runs KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, fell $6.85 to $67.57. The fast-food operator reported disappointing sales and earnings forecasts. An analyst recommended that investors sell the stock.

-Zynga fell 20 cents to $2.42 after the online gaming company said late Thursday that it was loosening its ties with Facebook.

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