By Andrea Tse02/15/13 – 01:07 PM EST
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Major U.S. stock averages were trading lower midday Friday as investors digested stronger-than-expected consumer sentiment and New York manufacturing data and awaited the results of the weekend G-20 meeting.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2.8 points to 13,970. The blue-chip index is up 4.8% from its 2013 closing low of 13,328.85 on Jan. 8.
Sector action was mostly negative in the broader market with basic materials, financials, energy and conglomerates drifting lower. The consumer-cyclical, transportation and consumer non-cyclical sectors gained ground.
Volumes exceeded 1.81 billion shares on the Big Board and reached 928.5 million shares on the Nasdaq. Decliners were overshadowing advancers by a ratio of 1.2-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.1-to-1 on the Nasdaq.
Adam Sarhan, founder and CEO of Sarhan Capital, said “the markets had a big run, and at this stage of the game we’re simply pausing to digest that move, which is very healthy. The fact that we’re not pulling back is a subtle, yet very important, signal of strength. … If this market pulls back, it deserves a bullish benefit of the doubt.”
Sarhan said that the stock market looks very healthy both on the surface, looking at the major averages, and underneath, where there’s been many “mini” industry or sector rotations.
Sarhan explained that groups that were underperforming are now outperforming the broader market, while leading performers such as financials remain strong but are now stalling a bit. Sarhan also noted that the housing sector remains strong and the oil sector popped this week.
Major U.S. stock averages ended little changed Thursday amid a number of high-profile corporate deals and better-than-expected jobs data.
A number of U.S. economic data points were released Friday morning, most of them positive.
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index showed a reading of 76.3 for February, which was stronger than the expected 73.5 and above the previous 73.8.
Capital Economics said that consumer confidence likely improved on a mixture of better labor market headlines and the continued rally in stock markets.
The New York Empire State manufacturing survey showed a reading of 10 for February, above expectations for a flat read and up from negative 7.8 in the prior month.
The Federal Reserve said industrial production fell 0.1% in January after increasing by an upwardly revised 0.4% in December. Economists thought output would increase by 0.2% for last month.
Capacity utilization fell to 79.1% from an upwardly revised 79.3%. Economists were predicting an increase to 78.9%.
U.S. markets are closed Monday for Presidents Day.
Finance ministers of the G-20 nations were meeting in Moscow Friday amid widespread concerns of rising risks of currency wars, with the Japanese yen’s depreciation one of the areas of focus amid Japan’s aggressive monetary policy.
In the U.S., sequestration talks in Washington continued Thursday, with Senate Democrats proposing a $110 billion combination of spending cuts and tax increases to avoid automatic spending cuts that kick in at the beginning of March. However, Republicans objected to a rise in tax rates or other measures to generate more tax revenue.
Gold for April delivery was falling $27.20 at $1,608.30 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while March crude oil futures were down $1.84 at $95.47 a barrel.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury was falling by 7/32, raising the yield to 2.026%. The dollar was up 0.08%, according to the U.S. dollar index.
In corporate news, V.F. Corp. (VFC_) shares were jumping by more than 2.5% after the apparel company booked record full-year and quarterly profits, beating quarterly earnings per share estimates by 4 cents.
LogMeIn ( LOGM ) shares were plummeting 29% after the remote-access specialist provided a disappointing outlook in its fourth-quarter release Thursday.
CBS (CBS_) shares were gaining 3% as analysts indicated they were staying positive about the media company’s prospects, despite its lower-than-expected quarterly results, as long as the advertising market remains favorable. The company said in its earnings release that it’s accelerating the pace of CBS’s share-repurchase program by another billion dollars.
Campbell Soup (CPB_) posted quarterly earnings of 70 cents a share on revenue of $2.33 billion, topping the average analyst estimate of 66 cents a share on revenue of $2.32 billion, with the help of solid results from its newly acquired Bolthouse Farms business. Shares were rising more than 1%.
Warren Buffett’s holding company now owns 3,685,700 shares.
Herbalife ( HLF ) shares were popping 11% as Carl Icahn revealed a 13% holding in the company.
Burger King Worldwide ( BKW ) shares were tacking on more than 2% after the hamburger chain’s fourth-quarter results beat consensus estimates. The company said it’s made “significant” progress in its “re-imaging” initiatives, and has added international franchise joint venture and development agreements and refranchised 871 restaurants.
— Written by Andrea Tse in New York