Stocks were mostly flat on Friday as rising oil prices lifted energy stocks and investors digested a mixed bag of data, including regional business activity and consumer sentiment.
Data from the Institute of Supply Management-Chicago showed that business activity in the U.S. Midwest contracted at a much more severe rate than expected in May.
Further muddling the picture was the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, which showed consumer confidence in May improved to its highest level since last September, boosted by hoped the government's economic stimulus plan will help lift the economy out of the recession.
The real outlier is the Michigan consumer confidence, which I think says purchasing managers may be too negative in both cities, said Janna Sampson, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
It's also possible consumers have turned up optimism but purchasing managers haven't yet seen it, and it will flow down through (at a later date).
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 8.84 points, or 0.11 percent, to 8,394.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 0.14 points, or 0.02 percent, to 906.97. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shed 2.63 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,749.16.
Before the open, a Commerce Department report showed that the economy contracted at 5.7 percent annual rate, slightly less than initially estimated by the government in the first quarter, while corporate profits rebounded.
Wall Street estimates, however, were for a 5.5 percent contraction.
As General Motors Corp
The automakers shares plunged more than 22 percent to $0.97.
Analysts have been concerned about the far-reaching implications a GM bankruptcy could have on the auto industry and the global economy.
Auto parts supplier Delphi Corp
As earnings season draws to a close, Dell Inc
Also on the earnings front, upscale jeweler Tiffany & Co
Through Thursday, 98 percent of S&P 500 companies had reported earnings, with 65 percent topping analysts' estimates.
Since hitting a 12-year low in early March, the Dow has gained more than 28 percent and the S&P 500 has risen 34 percent.
(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)