US stocks flip between small gains and losses

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are flipping from gains to losses Friday on mixed economic news.

A key measure of consumer confidence remained near its highest level in six years, but a closely watched index of business in the Chicago area had its biggest monthly drop since 2008.

"Investors don't know what to make of the news," said John Toohey, vice president of stock investment at USAA Investments. "I wouldn't be surprised to see more ups and downs."

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 53 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,011 at 11:45 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index was up less than one point to 1,614.

The University of Michigan said its index of consumer sentiment dipped to 84.1 in June from 84.5 the previous month. But that was still relatively high. May's reading was the highest since July 2007.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Business Barometer sank to 51.6 from a 14-month high of 58.7 in May. That was well below the level of 55 that economists polled by FactSet were expecting.

The Dow gained 365 points over the previous three days as investors jumped back into the market following a slump last week. That's when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the central bank could begin scaling back on its economic stimulus program later this year.

The S&P 500 is headed for its first monthly loss since October. But the index is still on track to end June with the best first half of a year since 1998, when it gained 17.7 percent, including dividends. The index has gained 13.8 percent so far this year.

The Nasdaq composite index was up seven points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,408.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.49 percent from 2.47 percent late Thursday. Last month, the yield fell as low as 1.63 percent. Treasury yields help set borrowing costs for a range of consumer and business loans.

In commodities trading, gold gained $3.70 to $1,215 an ounce. The price of crude oil gained 44 cents to $97.47 a barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.

Among stocks making big moves:

— BlackBerry maker Research In Motion plunged $3.68, or 24 percent, to $11.36 after the company posted a surprise loss in the first quarter and warned of future losses despite releasing its make-or-break smartphones this year. The company also discontinued making new versions of its slow-selling tablet device, The Playbook.

— Accenture fell $9.04, 11.3 or percent, to $71.16. The consulting firm cut its revenue and profit outlook for its fiscal year ending in August. Revenue was hurt by lower demand in Europe as well as its communications, media and technology division.

In overseas trading, Japanese stocks rose on news that a key consumer price index stopped falling for the first time in seven months, a sign that the world's third-largest economy is making progress in its battle against deflation. The government also reported that industrial production rose 2 percent, a fourth straight monthly increase. The benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 3.5 percent.