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The blue chips were under pressure on Friday as traders reacted to disappointing earnings from energy giant Chevron and weaker-than-expected U.S. economic data.
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As of 12:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 79.2 points, or 0.62%, to 12656, the S&P 500 dipped 4 points, or 0.3%, to 1314 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 4.6 points, or 0.16%, to 2810.
The U.S. economy expanded at an annualized pace of 2.8% in the fourth quarter of 2011, a quicker rate than the 1.8% in the third quarter, the Commerce Department reported in its first reading on Friday. The jump was the biggest since the second quarter of 2010. However, economists were expecting the economy to expand at 3% for the quarter.
Market participants will be looking to see how the economy is faring from headwinds caused by Europe's debt crisis, which has substantially slowed growth on the continent, a significant trading partner.
The Federal Reserve said earlier in the week it expects the economy to continue growing at a moderate pace, but does face risks from Europe. As a result, the central bank said it plans on keeping interest rates a exceptionally low levels until 2014.
Meanwhile, consumer sentiment climbed to the highest level since February 2011 in late January. The final reading of the Reuters/University of Michigan gauge hit 75 from a preliminary reading of 74. Economists were expecting the index to hit 74.1 for the month.
Earnings season kicked into high gear this week, with two blue-chip companies reporting on Friday.
Chevron (NYSE:CVX) posted profit and revenue that fell well short of expectations. The company's shares were down more than 2%, detracting 20 points from the Dow. Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) posted a fiscal second-quarter core profit of $1.10 per share on sales of $22.14 billion. Wall Street forecast the consumer products company to earn $1.08 on $22.19 billion. The company’s full-year view came in short of expectations.
Elsewhere, Ford Motor (NYSE:F) unveiled a fourth-quarter operating profit of 20 cents per share, falling short of analysts’ expectations of 25 cents. The automaker posted revenue of $34.6 billion, topping estimates of $32.09 billion.
Negotiations between Greece and its private creditors made "some progress" on Thursday and are continuing into Friday, the Institute of International Finance, which represents the creditors, said in an e-mailed statement. While there is apparently an agreement at a broad level, there still remain technical and legal hurdles.
The euro climbed 0.26% to $1.3143, while the U.S. dollar fell 0.27% against a basket of six world currencies.
Commodities markets were mixed. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York rose 19 cents, or 0.21%, to $99.90 a barrel. Wholesale RBOB gasoline surged 2.7% to $2.923 a gallon.
In metals, gold slumped $7.00, or 0.39%, to $1,737 a troy ounce.
European blue chips fell 0.97%, the English FTSE 100 dipped 1.1% to 5733 and the German DAX shed 0.43% to 6512.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.09% to 8,841 and the Chinese Hang Seng climbed 0.31% to 20,502.