Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened lower on Friday, after the release of disappointing U.S. consumer sentiment data, while U.S. debt concerns continued to weigh.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched 0.05% lower, the S&P 500 index fell 0.17%, while the Nasdaq Composite index shed 0.39%.
In a preliminary report, the University of Michigan said its index of U.S. consumer sentiment fell to 71.3 in January, its lowest level since December 2011, from a reading of 72.9 the previous month, disappointing expectations for an improvement to 75.0.
Meanwhile, sentiment remained under pressure as uncertainty over the U.S. debt ceiling deadlock continued to weigh after President Barack Obama urged Republicans earlier in the week to approve an increase in the borrowing limit without seeking policy concessions in return.
On Thursday, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, warned that the fight over raising the U.S. government's debt ceiling could be "catastrophic" for the global economy if not resolved in time.
Among earnings, General Electric surged 3.05% after the company posted results that beat estimates.
AT&T inched up 0.03%, but seemed likely to remain under pressure after the telecom company warned that it would take a fourth-quarter charge of about USD10 billion and expects quarterly results to be pressured by high smartphone costs and damage from Hurricane Sandy.
In the financial sector, Morgan Stanley said it swung to a profit, as earnings beat expectations, sending shares up 5.40%.
Other U.S. lenders were mixed, as Citigroup climbed 0.53% and Goldman Sachs rallied 1.91%, while JP Morgan and Bank of America declined 0.22% and 1.51% respectively.
Intel added to losses, with shares diving 6.26%, after the chipmaker reported earnings that edged past expectations, but projected a bigger-than-expected increase in capital spending for 2013. The company also said fourth-quarter revenue dropped 3% to USD13.5 billion.
Elsewhere, Capital One plunged 7.68%, as fourth-quarter profit missed analyst estimates because of higher loan losses.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were mixed. The EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.27%, France's CAC 40 dipped 0.03%, Germany's DAX slipped 0.28%, while Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 0.50%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 1.12%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged 2.86%.
Also Friday, official data showed that China's gross domestic product rose 7.9% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, compared with expectations for a 7.8% rise, after a 7.4% increase in the previous quarter.
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