* U.S. Oct consumer spending drops as income growth stalls
* Obama to speak midday; promoting tax agenda in Penn.
* Zynga shares plunge after revising deal with Facebook
* Whole Foods announces special dividend
* Dow up 0.04 pct, S&P down 0.04, Nasdaq off 0.1 pct
By Edward Krudy
NEW YORK, Nov 30 U.S. stocks were little
changed on Friday as investors were hesitant to make big bets
ahead of a statement by President Obama on the progress of
budget talks in Washington that have recently driven volatility
in financial markets.
U.S. President Barack Obama, visiting a factory in
Pennsylvania, will press his case on raising taxes on the
wealthy to narrow the deficit. He is expected to make a
statement around midday that is likely to impact markets.
"There is always hope in those situations that he (Obama) is
going to announce some type of positive development," said Tim
Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford
Hills, New York. "We see how violently the market swings on
positive and negative announcements."
Trading has been choppy as investors react to mixed
statements from policymakers in Washington about discussions on
averting the "fiscal cliff," spending cuts and tax hikes that
will come into effect in the new year and could cause a
recession, according to worst-case predictions.
Corporations continued to anticipate a harsher tax regime
next year. Whole Foods Market Inc was the latest to
announce a special cash dividend of $2.00 per share to skirt
higher dividend tax rates in 2013. The stock was up 0.6 percent
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 5.63 points,
or 0.04 percent, to 13,027.45. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
dropped 0.58 points, or 0.04 percent, to 1,415.37. The
Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 3.43 points, or 0.11
percent, to 3,008.59.
The S&P 500 was on track to end the month 0.3 percent
higher, after declining nearly 2 percent in October. The index
has recovered 4.5 percent since shedding 8 percent following the
U.S. presidential election earlier in November.
"The correction from the S&P 500's September peak has
allowed overbought momentum and optimistic sentiment conditions
to recede, and we believe the index is closer to an
intermediate-term buy signal than a sell signal," said Ari Wald,
analyst at PrinceRidge Group.
Yum Brands Inc shares slumped 9.4 percent to $67.42.
The company said late Thursday it expects fourth-quarter sales
at established restaurants to drop in China, where a cooling
economy is making it difficult to exceed the 21-percent gain it
enjoyed there a year earlier.
After a close relationship for several years, Facebook Inc
and Zynga Inc revised terms of a partnership
agreement between the companies. Under the new pact, Zynga will
have limited ability to promote its site on Facebook.
Zynga shares dropped 5.3 percent to $2.48. Facebook shares
were down 1.2 percent at $26.99.
The markets' reaction to data on Friday was muted.
A report showed business activity in the U.S. Midwest
expanded for the first time since August, buoyed by an
improvement in the labor market.
Separately, data showed U.S. consumer spending fell in
October for the first time in five months as income growth
stalled, suggesting slower economic growth in the fourth
Apple Inc's latest iPhone has received final
clearance from Chinese regulators, paving the way for a December
debut in a highly competitive market where the lack of a new
model had severely eroded its share of product sales. Shares of
Apple were down 0.7 percent at $585.29.
Verisign Inc said the U.S. Department of Commerce
had approved its agreement with ICANN to run the .com internet
registry, but the company wouldn't be able to raise prices as
before. The stock dropped 14.1 percent to $33.80 in late morning