US stock futures fall slightly after 4Q GDP report

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NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market closed mostly lower Friday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to its first losing week of 2012, after the government reported that economic growth was slower at the end of last year than economists expected.

The Dow spent the whole day in the red. It ended down 74 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,660.46. The loss snapped a three-week winning streak for the Dow, which fell 60 points for the week but is still up 3.6 percent for the year.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 struggled above even with an hour to go in trading, but it lost the gains and finished down 2.10 points at 1,316.33. The S&P finished the week up a sliver — 0.95 points.

The Nasdaq composite, which has more than doubled the Dow’s gain for the year, edged up 11.27 to 2,816.55. It rose about 30 points this week.

Economic growth for October through December came in at an annual rate of 2.8 percent. That was the fastest of 2011 but lower than the 3 percent that economists were looking for.

Utility companies led the way down with a fall of 1.3 percent. Most of the other nine industries in the S&P also fell, but only slightly, continuing a curious trading pattern this year: Trading has been calm in the past four weeks, a big change from the violent moves up and down that marked much of 2011.

Friday was the 17th day in a row of moves of less than 100 points up or down for the Dow. The last time the index had a longer period of such small moves was a 34-day stretch that started Dec. 3, 2010.

Despite the drift lower, investors displayed some bullishness.

Roughly two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. And the Russell 2000 index of smaller stocks rose nearly 2 percent for the week. Investors tend to sell stocks in the Russell when they’re worried, not buy them, because smaller firms often don’t have much cash and other resources when times get tough.

“Risk-taking is picking up,” says Jeff Schwarte, a portfolio manager at Principal Global Equities. He says his firm has been buying small firms since late last year. “We’re still finding attractive stocks.”

Next week, investors will turn their attention to Facebook, the powerhouse social network, which appears headed for the most anticipated initial public offering of stock in years.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said Friday that Facebook could raise as much as $10 billion in an offering that would value the company at $75 billion to $100 billion.

That would vault Facebook into the largest public companies in the world, on par with the likes of McDonald’s, and Visa. The Journal said Facebook could file IPO papers as early as Wednesday.

Investors earlier in the week had plenty of reason to hope the indexes would keep moving higher.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced it would likely keep benchmark interest rates near zero through late 2014, more than a year longer than it previously indicated. That helped send the Dow to its highest close since May.

Also lifting spirits: Apple had its best quarter for profits, trouncing expectations.

On Thursday, the Dow kept rising, briefly passing its highest close since the financial crisis three years ago. But the rally faded after news that new home sales in December had dropped, capping a year that ranked the worst for home sales since record-keeping began in 1963.

Among stocks making big moves Friday:

— Chevron fell more than 2 percent, the most of the 30 stocks in the Dow average, after its quarterly profit and revenue came in well below what analysts were expecting. Oil and natural gas production declined.

— Ford fell 4 percent after reporting disappointing earnings because of weak sales in Europe. The company said its results were also hurt by problems at parts suppliers in Thailand because of flooding there.

— Starbucks fell 1 percent after reporting late Thursday that that full-year results were likely to come in less than expectations.

— Procter & Gamble, which makes Tide, Crest and other consumer products, fell less than 1 percent after cutting its earnings outlook.

— Legg Mason dropped 5 percent after the investment management company’s earnings fell by half as clients pulled money out. Legg Mason posted earnings of 20 cents per share. Analysts expected 25 cents, according to FactSet.