Stocks were mixed despite a batch of largely stronger earnings reports, as investors turn their attention to how finance ministers from the Group of 20 major advanced and developing countries will address currency tensions as they meet in Korea.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 10 points. Verizon, American Express, and Home Depot fell, while Hewlett-Packard and Bank of America rose.
The S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq rose slightly. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 20.
Utilities, telecom and materials sectors fell, while energy rose. Analysts say the gathering of finance ministers, ahead of a meeting of G20 heads of state in November, is unlikely to end the drama in currency markets or resolve the biggest issue on the table - the dispute between the U.S. and China on China's unwillingness to let its currency appreciate.
US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner urged the Group of 20 nations not to weaken their currencies or keep them undervalued. His remarks initially led to a drop in the dollar on Friday, although it was trading higher later in the morning.
Comments made by St Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard on Thursday added to speculation that the Federal Reserve will opt for further monetary easing at its next policy meeting in November.
Bullard said he would back Fed purchases of Treasury securities in $100 billion increments meeting-by-meeting if the US central bank decides monetary easing is necessary.
Verizon , a Dow component, reported quarterly earnings before the bell on Fridaythat beat expectations on both profit and revenue. Shares edged lower in pre-market trading.
Amazon was slightly higher after the company turned in quarterly results Thursday that showed costs were outpacing estimates. Several brokerages raised the Internet retailer's price target after the earnings report, although some cited concerns with the Amazon's margins.
Baidu , a Chinese language Internet search provider, soared after reporting strong profits and sales on increased traffic. Several brokerages raised their ratings and price target for the company.
Meanwhile Citrix shares were largely flat ahead of its earnings release after the closing bell Friday, despite several
Schlumberger's shares rose after the oilfield services provider reported strong profits and revenues on growth in its onshore U.S. oil and natural gas businesses offset a drop-off in business from the Gulf of Mexico.
Dow component American Express reported quarterly earnings and sales that exceeded Wall Street expectationsafter the close on Thursday.
Honeywell International's profits also topped expectationson stronger demand for airline and automotive parts, and the diversified manufacturer raised in outlook.
KeyCorp's shares rose in pre-market trading after posting higher-than-expected profits of 20 cents a share, up from a loss 52 cents a share a year earlier. The regional bank, based in Cleveland, Ohio, had fewer bad commercial real estate loans.
Ingersoll-Rand's third-quarter profits rose more than expected to 68 cents a share, while revenues were in line with expectations.
Caterpillar's shares were slightly lower after news the maker of construction equipment is buying MWM Holding, a German engine company, from 3i, a private-equity firm, for for 580 million euros, or about $810 million, to expand options for customers of its electric power division.
In tech news, Hewlett-Packard's share rose after the tech giant unveiled a $799 tabletcomputer for business customers.
Shares were lower in Europe as investors waited for the outcome of the G20 finance ministers’ meeting.
New data showing German business sentiment was the strongest in 3-1/2 years in October suggested the recovery of Europe's largest economy may hold up better than expected, but the data failed to lift European stocks.
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