U.S. stock benchmarks opened modestly lower on Friday after a key measure of U.S. economic growth showed improvement, but also highlighted stubbornly low inflation. A second-quarter reading on gross domestic product rose 2.6%, below the 2.8% expected by economists polled by MarketWatch, showed that wages are accelerating more slowly than hoped, signaling the economy may still not be improving, but not running at full tilt. The Dow Jones Industrial Average --coming off its record close on Thursday--was trading flat, as corporate quarterly results from Dow components Exxon Mobil Corp. disappointed Wall Street, while Merck & Co. Inc. reported better-than-expected results. The S&P 500 index was off 0.2% at 2,469, weighed by a 1% drop in the consumer-discretionary sector. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index , which commenced a downdraft midday Thursday added to its losses, down 0.7% at 6,338. In more corporate news, Starbucks Corp. shares fell after the coffee giant posted earnings above expectations. For the week, the Dow was on pace for a 0.9% gain, while the S&P 500 index was on track for a 0.2% weekly fall. The Nasdaq was looking at a weekly slide of 0.6%, its worst week since the period ended June 30, according to FactSet data.
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