Stocks were little changed on Friday, with all three indexes on track for their worst week in six weeks as mixed economic data did little to convince investors of the recovery's strength.
U.S. retail sales rebounded last month, as did the overall Consumer Price Index for July, but the data pointed to an economy that has slowed considerably in recent months.
Consumer sentiment stabilized this month after a sharp drop in July, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys' preliminary August reading showed. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said business inventories rose more than expected in June.
Positive corporate earnings and improved technicals helped the market rally through July and early August. But sentiment soured this week after the Federal Reserve gave a darker assessment of the economy.
The S&P 500 also relinquished its hold on the 200-day moving average that had generated some positive momentum and was trading below its 50-day moving average on Friday.
No one wants to take a major position right now, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.
Right now the market just needs to ascertain where the macro economic environment is headed. Until there's more information, it's going to remain fairly flat.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> edged up 8.02 points, or 0.08 percent, at 10,327.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dipped 0.95 points, or 0.09 percent, to 1,082.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> eased 6.35 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,183.92.
The three major indexes were on track for their biggest weekly decline in six weeks and were also in negative territory for the year.
The consumer discretionary index <.GSPD> weighed on the broader market following the data and disappointing outlooks from upscale retailer Nordstrom Inc
Nordstrom tumbled 5.9 percent to $31.47 and Penney lost 3.6 percent to $20.05. The consumer index was down 0.6 percent.
The Dow got a lift from Boeing Co
Education company shares were hit as brokerages cut price targets and the government said it will hire more investigators to prevent fraud by for-profit colleges.
Apollo Group Inc
Eli Lilly and Co
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)