US STOCKS-Wall Street flat in wake of weak consumer sentiment data


U.S. stocks were little changed on Friday after a weak consumer confidence survey for December overshadowed earlier gains triggered by a better-than-expected employment report.

Wall Street had opened higher after Labor Department data showed nonfarm employment increased more than expected by 146,000 jobs in November.

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But major U.S. stock indexes gave up their gains, with the Nasdaq turning negative, after a separate report showed U.S. consumer confidence plunged in early December to its lowest since August, amid investor anxiety over the outcome of ongoing fiscal discussions in Washington.

Additionally, a drop in the jobless rate to a near-four year low, as people gave up the search for work, suggested the labor market was still tepid.

"While it (consumer confidence data) is just one measure of consumer sentiment, maybe the constant barrage of back and forth in DC with no resolution yet is having an impact," said Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 32.25 points, or 0.25 percent, at 13,106.29. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.80 points, or 0.06 percent, at 1,414.74. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 7.11 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,982.15.

Amarin Corp shares slumped 19 percent to $9.66 after the bio-pharmaceutical company raised $100 million in financing to help it launch its heart drug, Vascepa, but disappointed investors, who had hoped for a sale or partnership.

Shares of Netflix Inc rose 2.3 percent to $88.19 on news the Securities and Exchange Commission was considering taking action against the company and its Chief Executive Reed Hastings for violating public disclosure rules with a Facebook post.

After falling nearly 10 percent so far this week, Apple Inc shares were down 0.4 percent at $544.60 on Friday. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)