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Stocks slump out of the gate

Stocks slump out of the gate
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Friday, June 14, 2013 - 7:59am

Investors took some chips off the table early Friday as a week of volatile trading draws to a close.

The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were all slightly lower following the opening bell. The major indexes pushed more than 1% higher Thursday, breaking a 3-day losing streak.

The choppy trading comes as investors readjust their expectations for the Federal Reserve, which could begin to slow the pace of its bond buying program later this year. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has said repeatedly that any decision to curtail monetary stimulus will depend on how the economy performs.

The Fed has a policy meeting next week and Bernanke will speak at a press conference Wednesday.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said producer prices increased 0.5% in May, driven largely by food and energy prices. The measure of prices for unfinished goods, excluding food and energy, fell 0.4%.

That report points to "an even more benign" reading on consumer prices Monday, said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA.

Later Friday morning, the Fed will publish its monthly report on industrial production and the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters will release data on consumer sentiment.

In corporate news, Smithfield Foods said earnings fell 69% to $29.7 million, or 21 cents per share, in the quarter ended April 28. The meat producer blamed high grain prices due to last year's drought, which pushed up the cost of hog production. Smithfield announced last month that it was being bought by Chinese meat producer Shuanghui International.

Shares of Restoration Hardware jumped after the retailer reported results that easily beat forecasts. Shares of the company have been red hot since the retailer went public in November.

Smith & Wesson shares rose in premarket trading after the gunmaker released preliminary results showing record quarterly and full-year sales and earnings.

Analysts at Credit Suisse upgraded SolarCity, sending shares of the Elon Muks-backed alternative energy company higher.

European markets were pushing slightly higher in morning trading.

Asian markets ended the day with some decent gains, recovering from a big drop on Thursday.

Tokyo's Nikkei index bounced back by nearly 2% after falling more than 6% Thursday. But the benchmark Japanese index is still in bear market territory, down 20% from its most recent peak.

The Hang Seng closed 0.4% higher Friday and the Shanghai Composite index also pushed up by 0.6%.

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