Dow slips after US economic growth disappoints

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NEW YORK (AP) ? Stocks drifted lower late Friday on news the U.S. economy grew at a slower pace than economists had expected in the fourth quarter.

The Dow Jones industrial average was heading for its first down week in 2012. The index has risen three weeks in a row and is up 4 percent this year.

The Dow fell 66 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,668 at 3 p.m. The S&P 500 index fell 2 points to 1,317. The Nasdaq composite edged up 9 to 2,815.

The Commerce Department said the economy grew at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the final three months of last year. Economists had expected 3 percent growth.

Among stocks making big moves, Chevron Corp. fell 2 percent, the most of the 30 stocks in the Dow average, after the energy company’s fourth-quarter revenue and earnings per share came in well below what analysts were expecting. Oil and natural gas production declined in the quarter.

Utility companies led the move down with a fall of 1.2 percent. Most of the other nine sectors in the S&P are down, but only slightly, continuing a curious pattern seen in recent trading. Trading has been extraordinarily tranquil in the first four weeks this year, a big change from the violent moves up and down that marked much of 2011.

If the Dow closes roughly where it has been trading all day, it will mark the seventeenth day in row of moves up or down of less than 100 points. The last time the index had a longer period of such small moves was a remarkable 34-day stretch that started Dec. 3, 2010.

Ford Motor Co. fell 4 percent after reporting disappointing fourth quarter earnings due to weak sales in Europe. The company said its results were also hurt by trouble at parts suppliers in Thailand due to flooding there.

Starbucks Corp. fell 1 percent after reporting late Thursday that that full year results were likely to come in less than expectations. Procter & Gamble Co., which makes Tide, Crest and other consumer products, fell less than 1 percent after cutting its earnings outlook.

Legg Mason dropped 4 percent after the investment management company’s earnings fell in half as clients pulled money out of the firm. Legg Mason’s posted earnings of 20 cents per share. Analysts were expected 25 cents, according to FactSet.