Stocks were fighting to stay in positive territory Friday following two days of consecutive losses as worries about Spain and Italy's soaring borrowing costs eased but the U.S. debt reduction debate came under the spotlight.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks were struggling to stay in positive territory Friday following two days of consecutive losses as worries about Spain and Italy's soaring borrowing costs eased but the U.S. debt reduction debate came under the spotlight.
The U.S. deficit super committee's remains deadlocked ahead of a Nov. 23 deadlines, capping further equities gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 34 points, or 0.3%, at 11,805. The S&P 500 was up 1.7 points, or 0.1%, to 1218. The Nasdaq was wavering at 2582.
"The battle ground this week includes the European challenges," added Michael Strauss, chief investment strategist with Commonfund. Strauss noted that increasing pressure for Germany to help stop the debt crisis from worsening could be giving markets a lift today. "Today's focus may also be more on better U.S. economic numbers," he added.
The Conference Board's index of leading indicators in the U.S. surprised to the upside Friday. The latest reading rose 0.9% in October, better than the 0.6% rise economists expected, although September's reading was revised to a 0.1% rise from the originally reported 0.2%.
Earlier Friday, European Central bank chief Mario Draghi criticized eurozone leaders for failing to follow through with commitments on their so-called comprehensive plans to resolve the debt crisis. "Where is the implementation of these long-standing decisions?" he said in a speech in Frankfurt. "We should not be waiting any longer.
The potential spread of Europe's debt crisis to the region's core economies has put pressure on officials to expand the bailout fund as they had planned in a deal last month. However, Germany and France disagree on the role that the central bank should play. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reiterated that the ECB cannot act as a lender of last resort.
London's FTSE lost 1.1%, and Germany's DAX fell 0.8%. Overnight, Asian stocks closed down for the third week. Japan's Nikkei Average was down 1.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.7%.
Borrowing costs in Italy and Spain eased after record high levels in recent days pressured the broader market. Yields on the Italian 10-year benchmark were at 6.68% while yields on the Spanish 10-year bonds were at 6.76%.
Stocks have dropped by more than 1% for two days straight, with the Dow slumping by triple digits Thursday. Investors are watching whether the S&P index, which fell through the key 1225 technical level in the prior session, will be able to hold above 1200, its 50-day moving average.
"If 1225 is not reclaimed, one can imagine bearish sentiment only increasing," noted Dan Greenhaus, strategist with BTIG. However, Greenhaus added that "while investors were not necessarily participating on the way up, neither are they participating on the way down."
Salesforce.com(:CRM) was losing 9.1% after the software maker swung to a loss in the third quarter and said fourth-quarter earnings could come in below analysts' estimates. The software maker lost $3.8 million, down from profit a year earlier of $21.1 million. Adjusted profit in the quarter was 34 cents a share, compared to the forecasted 31 cents a share.
Boeing(:BA) shares were gaining 2% after the aerospace giant won a $21.7 billion commercial-jet order from Indonesia's Lion Air -- its biggest-ever commercial-jet order.
Gap's(:GPS) third-quarter profit fell 36% as revenue fell 1.8% to $3.58 billion. Gap earned $193 million, or 38 cents a share, down from $303 million, or 48 cents, a year earlier. Analysts were expecting earnings of 36 cents a share on revenue of $3.59 billion. Shares were losing 3.4%.
Eastman Kodak(:EK) may sell Kodak Gallery, its online photo-sharing business, in a continued effort to avert a cash shortfall and potential bankruptcy. The Wall Street Journal reported that private-equity firms and retailers are looking to buy the Kodak business in a sale could net hundreds of millions of dollars. Shares were off 3.4%.
Swiss bank UBS(:UBS) said it will downsize several businesses, slash up to 2,000 jobs and focus on wealth management as part of an overhaul of its investment banking strategy. The company said Thursday it will try to become more focused, less complex and less capital-intensive. Shares were adding 2.3%.
The January crude oil contract was slipping 98 cents to trade at $97.95 a barrel, after oil prices topped $100 a barrel earlier in the week for the first time since early June. Gold for December delivery was gaining $4.70 to $1,724.90.
The euro was gaining against the dollar, which was slipping 0.3% compared with a basket of currencies. In the bond market, 10-year Treasuries were losing 14/32 with the yield at over 2%.
-- Written by Andrea Tse and Chao Deng in New York.