By STEVE ROTHWELL
2014-01-04 03:01 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market continued its lackluster start to the New Year Friday.
Stocks opened higher, then fell back to trade flat around midday. The market's slump on Thursday was the first for an opening day of the year since 2008.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,830 as of 12:09 p.m. (1709 GMT). The Dow Jones industrial average gained seven points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,449. The Nasdaq composite fell 16 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,126.
SALES SLUMP: General Motors was among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500. The automaker fell $1.41, or 3.4 percent, to $39.53 after the company said its U.S. sales slumped more than 6 percent in December. GM sold about 230,000 cars last month, down from nearly 246,000 a year ago.
BIG STORM: Trading was muted Friday after a winter storm hit the Northeast. The governors of New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency and urged people to avoid travelling. Trading has been quiet this week, before and after the New Year's Day holiday on Wednesday.
DELTA DECEMBER: Delta jumped $1.20, or 4.3 percent, to $28.73 after the airline said that a measure of its revenue for December rose 10 percent. Delta benefited from strong demand and the late Thanksgiving holiday. Analysts at S&P Capital IQ raised their earnings estimates for the carrier and boosted their recommendation on the stock to "strong buy."
TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged higher to 3 percent from 2.99 percent on Thursday. The price of oil dropped for a fourth straight trading day. Oil fell 95 cents, or 1 percent, to $94.50 a barrel.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Despite the slow start to the year, the economic backdrop remains positive for stocks, said Bill Barker, a senior portfolio analyst at Motley Fool Funds, which manages about $600 million in stock mutual funds.
"As long as there is no inflation, and a good economy, with low interest rates....that's the kind of thing that stocks love," said Barker.
NO JOY: Joy Global, a manufacturer of mining equipment, fell 74 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $55.62, after analysts at Goldman Sachs recommended their clients sell the stock amid a weaker outlook for the mining industry.