Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened lower on Friday, after the release of tepid U.S. data added to uncertainty over the strength of the U.S. economic recovery, although comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke still lent some support.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.04%, the S&P 500 slipped 0.12%, while the Nasdaq Composite index fell 0.24%.
Official data showed that U.S. industrial production rose 0.3% in December, in line with expectations, after a 1% increase in November whose figure was revised down from a previously estimated 1.1% gain.
A separate report showed that U.S. building permits declined 3% to 0.986 million units in December, from 1.017 million units the previous month. Analysts had expected building permits to slip to 1.015 million units last month.
Data also showed that U.S. housing starts rose dropped 9.8% to 0.999 million units in December, from an upwardly revised 1.107 million units in November, compared to expectations for a decline to 0.990 million units.
On Thursday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank should be giving the economy the stimulus it needs despite worries that quantitative easing may destabilize the financial system.
In earnings news, General Electric shares were down 1.82% even after the company posted a rise in quarterly net profit.
Morgan Stanley surged 2.42% on the other hand, as the U.S. lender reported earnings that beat analyst estimates.
Elsewhere, Apple shares tumbled 0.97% after China Mobile launched its long-awaited sale of iPhones on Friday. China Mobile has the world''s biggest network of cell phone users.
In the same sector, Qualcomm edged up 0.12% amid reports Chief Executive Officer Paul Jacobs made USD20.4 million in 2013, his last full year of leading the maker of chips for mobile phones.
Chief Operating Officer Steve Mollenkopf is set to take over as CEO on March 4.
United Parcel Service was also in focus, down 2.48%, after estimating quarterly profit below market'' expectations, partly due to a shorter U.S. holiday season.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were steady. The EURO STOXX 50 dipped 0.05%, France’s CAC 40 inched 0.01% higher, Germany''s DAX added 0.18%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 eased up 0.09%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.64%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index eased 0.08%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release the preliminary reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.