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US Stocks Stagnate amid Sharp Downturn in Consumer Confidence


  • Dow, S&P 500 little changed on Friday after posting solid gains in the previous session.
  • Nasdaq drops nearly 13 points but remains above 5,000.
  • US consumer confidence in May falls to its lowest level since October.

US stocks were little changed on Friday, as a weakening economy soured consumer optimism and raised doubts about a stronger recovery in the second quarter.

The large-cap S&P 500 was little changed on Friday, as it hovered near all-time highs following a strong showing on Thursday. The benchmark gauge dipped 1.63 points to 2,122.73.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was virtually unchanged for most of the day after surging nearly 200 points on Thursday. The index closed at 18,272.56, advancing 20.32 points.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fell on Friday, declining 2.5 points or 0.25 percent to 5,048.29.

Wall Street had staged a large rally on Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting a new all-time high.

US Consumer Confidence Plunges in May

Declining consumer confidence weighed on equities on Friday, as a lagging economy pointed to a protracted slowdown in consumer spending. The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index plunged 7.1 points to 88.6 in May, the lowest since October.

Uneven jobs growth and a stagnating domestic economy weighed on consumer confidence this month, the survey showed. While initial estimates suggested that GDP expanded 0.2 percent annually in the first quarter, the latest data signal that the economy probably contracted at the start of the year, mirroring last year’s slow start. The US economy may have contracted by up to 1 percent in the first quarter, according to analysts.

The Commerce Department will post revised first quarter growth figures later this month.

Declining consumer confidence suggests Americans will hold off on major purchases in the coming months, which could stymie economic growth in the second quarter. Retail sales were flat in April after rebounding in March.

Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity and is the major driver of gross domestic product. Household spending expanded just 1.4 percent in the first quarter compared to 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

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