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By Jennifer Yousfi
A host of weak economic indicators raised more red flags for a pending recession and sent U.S. markets into the red in early trading.
At noon ET, the three major U.S. stock indices all had slight declines. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average Index dropped 66.73 points (-0.54%), to trade at 12,310.25. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index shed 19.73 points (-0.85%), to reach 2,312.81. And the broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 8.07 points (-0.60%), to settle at 1,340.79.
A combinations of reports released this morning held nothing but bad news for a struggling U.S. economy. The University of Michigan released its index of consumer confidence, which fell to 69.6 in February, from 78.4 in January, a new 16-year low. New York manufacturing was also down, while U.S. import prices rose. [For a related story on the increase in U.S. import prices, please click.]
"The economy is really soft and we're starting 2008 with modest, if any, momentum," Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at Richmond, Virginia-based Trusco Capital Management, told Bloomberg News. "The credit issues are a major concern. It seems each rock we turn over has something underneath it."
In overseas trading, Japan's Nikkei Index maintained most of yesterday's (Thursday) surge to end flat with only a 3.89-point loss to close at 13,622.56. Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng Index gained 126.75 points to close at 24,148.43.
At midday, the dollar had gained against the pound sterling [up 0.250%] but lost ground to the both the euro [-0.572%] and yen [-0.508%].
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U.S. stocks pressured by weak economic data
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