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US STOCKS-Solid jobs data spurs little buying, Apple falls again

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 7 Dec 2012 06:47 PM
Author: Reuters
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* U.S. consumer sentiment drops, hitting stocks

* Non-farm payrolls rise 146,000, exceeding expectations

* Apple down 2.9 percent on continuing weakness

* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq down 0.5 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Gabriel Debenedetti

NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 eked out only a slight gain on Friday as weak consumer sentiment data offset enthusiasm from a better-than-expected jobs report, while the Nasdaq slipped after some investors resumed a sell-off of Apple shares.

Wall Street opened higher after the U.S. Labor Department said non-farm payrolls added 146,000 jobs in November. However, the gains faded, and selling increased after the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for early December fell to its lowest level since August.

Apple shares resumed a recent slide, falling 2.9 percent to ${esc.dollar}531.27. The stock of Apple, the largest U.S. company by market value, is down 10 percent this week. It has dropped 24 percent from its all-time intraday high of ${esc.dollar}705.07 reached in late September.

In Friday's session, Apple's 50-day moving average fell to ${esc.dollar}599.52 - below its 200-day moving average at ${esc.dollar}601.38 - and putting the stock on track for its worst week since May 2010.

"There are a number of contributing factors to the weakness today. One is the return to the negative slide in Apple. It's a pretty big proxy for tech in general, and the market overall," said Michael James, senior trader at Wedbush Morgan in Los Angeles.

In Friday's session, Apple's 50-day moving average fell to ${esc.dollar}599.52 - below its 200-day moving average at ${esc.dollar}601.38 - and putting the stock on track for its worst week since May 2010.

Apple's weakness drove the S&P information technology sector lower. The index fell 0.7 percent and was the weakest of the S&P 500's 10 major industry sectors on Friday.

The equity market has regained most of the ground it lost following President Barack Obama's re-election as markets turned their focus to the coming "fiscal cliff." Market response to the macroeconomic data remained muted as negotiations continued to command investor attention.

The conflicting reports "would have had more of a lasting effect in a normal environment, but in the current environment? No. There's total uncertainty with what's going to transpire here and abroad. Too many questions," said Warren West, principal at Greentree Brokerage Services in Philadelphia.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said that talks this week with President Barack Obama produced no progress, and he renewed his demand that the president provide a new offer to avert the series of tax increases and spending cuts that are likely to hurt economic demand in 2013.

Still, the S&P 500 is just 4.1 percent below the 2012 intraday high of 1,474.51 reached in mid-September.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 53.67 points, or 0.41 percent, to 13,127.71. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 1.80 points, or 0.13 percent, to 1,415.74. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 15.55 points, or 0.52 percent, at 2,973.72.

Amarin Corp shares lost 18.5 percent to ${esc.dollar}9.74 after the biopharmaceutical company raised ${esc.dollar}100 million in financing to help it launch its heart drug, Vascepa, but disappointed investors, who had hoped for a sale or partnership.

CombiMatrix Corp shares soared 250.3 percent to ${esc.dollar}6.90 after the company said two studies published in a medical journal favored technology it uses for prenatal diagnosis of genetic abnormalities over traditional technologies.

Shares of Netflix Inc, which had fluctuated between positive and negative territory earlier in the session, turned higher once more by early afternoon. Netflix was up 0.6 percent at ${esc.dollar}86.66 following news that the Securities and Exchange Commission was considering taking action against the company and its Chief Executive Reed Hastings for violating public disclosure rules with a Facebook post. (Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jan Paschal)

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