Stocks finished little-changed after another up-and-down session.
Major indexes surrendered early gains and entered the last two hours of trading at flat to slightly higher as Wall Street gets set to close out another trading year. Monday is the last day of activity on the domestic markets.
A fresh batch of indications that the economy was lagging tempered a surge that began last week and was halted Thursday. Stocks opened significant higher today but fell throughout the morning as light trading made for high volatility.
The National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago business barometer showed that business activity in the Midwest expanded in December at a faster rate than expected, but there were significant drops in employment and prices paid.
Also, sales of new single-family homes fell much more than expectedto an annual rate of 647,000 in November, the slowest pace in more than 12 years, the Commerce Department said.
And the situation in Pakistan continued to generate unease as rioting continued following the assassination Thursday of opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
"If you're going into a weekend when there could be more disruption, you don't want to be long the market, particularly at the end of the year," said Quincy Krosby, chief investment stragetist at The Hartford. "In a market which has very thin volume, any kind of issue that is weighing on the market is going to skew the market quite heavily."