Stocks decline in light trading

Durable goods orders fall unexpectedly; volume low ahead of holiday weekend; bond prices tumble.

NEW YORK ( -- Santa showed few signs of making a visit to Wall Street on Friday as stocks fell in light trading on concerns about the health of the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average (Charts), the broader S&P 500 index (Charts) and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite (Charts) all lost about 0.4 percent after the market open.

The so-called Santa Claus rally that has lifted stocks this month got sidelined Thursday, when the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank reported a surprising decline in regional manufacturing for December.

A report on durable goods orders, considered a measure of business spending, reinforced those concerns Friday.

The Commerce Department said orders for big-ticket items, excluding transportation, fell 1.1 percent in November.

Stocks also had trouble finding momentum ahead of the holiday weekend. U.S. stock markets will close Monday for Christmas.

Also on the economic front, the Commerce Department said personal income rose 0.3 percent in November while personal spending increased 0.5 percent. While those numbers were slightly below estimates, the report's inflation reading came in flat.

At 10 a.m. ET the University of Michigan is set to report its revised reading on consumer confidence in December. The report, which can be an indicator of consumers' willingness to spend, is forecast to remain at a 90.2 reading.

Among stock movers,Research In Motion (Charts) rose 2 percent. The BlackBerry maker reported upbeat third-quarter profit late Thursday and forecast an even stronger fourth quarter due to strong demand for its handheld e-mail devices.

Qualcomm (Charts), a provider of microchips for mobile telephones, fell 1 percent. The company lowered its quarterly profit outlook Thursday.

Oil prices rebounded in early trading after sinking more than $1 Thursday. U.S. light crude oil for February delivery gained 18 cents to $62.84 a barrel in electronic trading.

Treasury prices fell on the inflation reading, raising the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to 4.58 percent from 4.54 percent late Thursday.

The dollar was lower against the euro and little changed against the yen.

Stocks in Asia closed Friday mostly higher, while major indexes in Europe were lower in early trading.

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