By CHRISTINA REXRODEAP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - On the stock market, Friday was the disappointing capstone to a disappointing week, where unimpressive earnings kept investors feeling wary.
Almost everything about the day screamed summer. Trading volume was very light, typical of August, and there was little economic news to move the market. Earnings season was quickly receding, with more than 90 percent of Standard & Poor's 500 company already reporting second-quarter results. The only major economic data point that the government released was wholesale inventories - hardly the most closely watched indicator.
"There's no specific culprit here, but the market seems to be tired," said Robbert Van Batenburg, director of market strategy at Newedge in New York. "There's not a lot of people at their desks."
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 57 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,441 at 2 p.m. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,695. The Nasdaq composite was essentially flat, up less than a point at 3,670.
J.C. Penney was one of the few companies making news. Shares fell 7 percent as the company's board bickered with its largest shareholder, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, over how quickly the company should replace its interim CEO. The stock was down 91 cents to $12.75.
Other developments weren't enough to energize the lollygagging stock indexes. The government reported that sales for U.S. wholesalers increased - but wholesalers also cut their stockpiles for a third straight month, an indication that they're uncertain about future demand.
Profits at S&P 500 companies have been up less than 5 percent in the second quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ. That's less than analysts were expecting when they made forecasts at the beginning of the year, and even the relatively small earnings gains are built not on business growth but on cost-cutting. Revenue is down 0.6 percent so far this quarter.
Economic data from China came in, for the most part, better than expected, with inflation steady and industrial production up. But investors seemed to be taking the news in stride, and didn't send stocks up like they did on Thursday, when China reported a trade rebound. Van Batenburg cautioned that the new data hardly signaled that the world's second-largest economy was healed.
"It's one data point, it's not a panacea," Van Batenburg said. "I think the jury is still out on China."
The entire week has also been ho-hum on the stock market. The S&P 500 ended higher only on Thursday, fueled by the China trade data. All three indexes were poised for losing weeks, and for the Dow, that meant its first weekly loss in seven. Last week, when it rose 0.6 percent, it hit a record high close, 15,658, on Friday.
Among stocks making big moves:
- BlackBerry jumped after Reuters reported that the company may be growing more amenable to going private. The stock rose 71 cents, or 8 percent, to $9.94.
- Priceline.com rose a day after the travel website announced earnings that trumped analyst expectations. The stock rose $46.79, or 5 percent, to $980.50. If the stock goes above $1,000, it would be the first in the S&P 500 to do so.
-Noodles & Co., the restaurant chain, plummeted after it predicted that sales growth at established restaurants would slow down. The stock plunged 10 percent, down $4.63 to $42.65.