US STOCKS-S&P, Nasdaq drop as consumer sentiment offsets jobs

Fri Dec 7, 2012 12:37pm EST

* U.S. consumer sentiment drops, hitting stocks

* Non-farm payrolls rise 146,000, exceeding expectations

* CombiMatrix soars after favorable medical studies

* Dow up 0.3 pct, S&P off 0.01 pct, Nasdaq down 0.6 pct (Updates to midday; changes byline)

By Gabriel Debenedetti

NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq slipped on Friday after consumer sentiment unexpectedly dipped, dampening early enthusiasm from a better-than-expected employment report.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment index plunged to 74.5 in early December, the lowest level since August.

Wall Street opened higher after U.S. Labor Department data showed non-farm employment increased more than expected, with 146,000 jobs added in November.

"The gain was sharper than expected, particularly in light of the hurricane, so certainly that was a pleasant surprise. We'll take it," said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.

The equity market has regained most of the ground it lost following President Barack Obama's re-election as markets turned their focus to the coming "fiscal cliff." Market response to the macroeconomic data remained muted as negotiations continued to command investor attention.

"We will just have to see overall how much of an effect one number can have on what is really a market that is pointing towards Washington and fiscal cliff negotiations," Charlop said.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said that talks this week with President Barack Obama produced no progress, and he renewed his demand that the president provide a new offer to avert the series of tax increases and spending cuts that are likely to hurt economic demand in 2013.

Still, the market's resilience - the S&P 500 is just 4.1 percent below the 2012 intraday high of 1,474.51 reached in mid-September - suggests investors still see a deal coming to fruition before long.

"I think the market has priced in an expectation that something may get done, and if it doesn't, it would be done shortly after January first, so I don't see any worries in the market," said Jeff Meyerson, head of trading for Sunrise Securities in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.66 points, or 0.33 percent, to 13,116.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dipped 0.12 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,413.82. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 16.38 points, or 0.55 percent, to 2,972.89.

Amarin Corp shares slid 19.2 percent to $9.66 after the biopharmaceutical company raised $100 million in financing to help it launch its heart drug, Vascepa, but disappointed investors, who had hoped for a sale or partnership.

CombiMatrix Corp shares soared 180.2 percent to $5.52 after the company said two studies published in a medical journal favored technology it uses for prenatal diagnosis of genetic abnormalities over traditional technologies.

In contrast, shares of Netflix Inc gave up earlier gains and slipped 0.4 percent to $85.83 following news that the Securities and Exchange Commission was considering taking action against the company and its Chief Executive Reed Hastings for violating public disclosure rules with a Facebook post.

After falling nearly 10 percent so far this week, Apple Inc shares were down 2.5 percent at $533.59 on Friday. (Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jan Paschal)

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