Investors learned ahead of the opening bell that the U.S. economy added more jobs than expected in November, and the unemployment rate fell to a four-year low.
But the latest consumer sentiment reading from Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan served as a stark reminder that consumers still are nervous The index unexpectedly fell to 74.5 in December, coming in way below forecasts and down from 82.7 in November.
On top of that, worries about the fiscal cliff and ongoing back-and-forth wrangling in Washington continue to keep investors on edge. If lawmakers fail to strike a deal before the end of the year to avert scheduled tax increases and spending cuts, they risk pushing the U.S. economy into recession.
Looking at individual stocks, Netflix(NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for posting information about the company on his Facebook page that he hadn't disclosed to the SEC. Shares dipped slightly.