Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, rose at a 2% annual rate in the third quarter, according to government data. The figure was higher than the 1.7% rate economists surveyed by CNNMoney had forecast and came after GDP grew 1.3% in the second quarter.
Investors were also digesting the latest reports on corporate sales and earnings in the third quarter.
Apple (Fortune 500), one of the most widely held stocks in the S&P 500, reported , quarterly results that missed expectations, despite predictions for a strong fourth quarter. Additionally, Amazon (Fortune 500) reported a narrower-than-expected loss but missed on sales. ,
As quarterly results continue to roll in, investors have been sidelined by weaker-than-expected sales growth and tepid guidance for the current quarter. In addition, traders have become risk-averse ahead of the U.S. presidential elections, while concerns about the fiscal cliff continue to weigh on the market.
Later in the morning, the University of Michigan will release the final version of its consumer sentiment index for October.
U.S. stocks closed with slim gains Thursday.
Spain's IBEX 35 was down 0.8% after government statistics showed Spanish unemployment rose to a record high of 25% in the third quarter.
On Thursday, Standard & Poor's cut its ratings on BNP Paribas and two other major French banks, citing the rising economic risks that they face.
Comcast (said earnings jumped 136% in the third quarter from the same period last year, helped by coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games. )
Shares of Expedia ( continued to rally ahead of the bell on Friday, after the travel website reported strong quarterly earnings late Thursday. )
Deckers Outdoor ( tumbled in premarket trading, after the maker of Ugg boots and Teva sandals slashed its outlook for the remainder of the year. )
Oil for December delivery rose 16 cents to $86.19 a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery dropped $3.40 to $1,709.40 an ounce.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, pushing the yield down to 1.79% from 1.83% late Thursday.
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