US Stocks Headed for Strongest Month

(AP) -- U.S. stocks are slightly lower Friday morning as government data revealed that wages and consumer spending growth remain feeble. Still, the market is on track for its strongest month in four years.

TIGHT PURSE STRINGS: The Commerce Department said consumer spending inched up just 0.1 percent in September, partly because energy prices fell. That was the smallest gain in eight months. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Incomes also grew 0.1 percent, and wages and salaries were flat.

GETTING STARTED: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,740 as of 10:00 a.m. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down three points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,086. The Nasdaq composite index was up a point, to 5,075.

OCTOBER SURPRISE: After a steep drop in late August and early September, stocks came back in a big way in October. The S&P 500 is up 8.8 percent this month. If that holds up, it would be the index's strongest month since October 2011.

ADDING TO THEIR NETWORK: The professional networking service LinkedIn delivered a strong third quarter. LinkedIn's profit surpassed analyst estimates and revenue was more than expected. The stock gained $22.57, or 10.4 percent, to $239.59.

TAKING OFF: Online travel company Expedia rose $10.16, or 8 percent, to $137.22 after it said savings from its acquisition of Orbitz could be greater than it initially expected. Expedia bought Orbitz in September for $1.3 billion.

PARTLY CLOUDY: First Solar, the biggest U.S. solar company, advanced $4.86, or 9.5 percent, to $55.85 on a bigger-than-expected profit and more revenue. SolarCity, which installs solar panels in homes and businesses, fell after the company posted a bigger-than-expected loss. It dropped $7.86, or 20.6 percent, to $30.21.

OIL SLICK: Chevron says it will eliminate around 10 percent of its jobs, or up to 7,000 positions, and will also slash capital and exploratory spending as it deals with lower oil prices that are cutting deeply into profit. The second-largest oil company said Friday that its profit fell 64 percent in the third quarter.

GOING TO THE ATM: Commercial bank KeyCorp said it will buy First Niagara Financial Group for $4.1 billion, and its shares sank 87 cents, or 6.6 percent, to $12.51.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.16 percent.

OVERSEAS: France's CAC 40 fell 0.3 percent to 4,873.33 while Germany's DAX shed 0.4 percent to 10,757.02 after official figures showed the eurozone's inflation rate was a muted 0 percent in October. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent to 6,371.07. The DAX is the best performing major European stock index in October, with a gain of almost 12 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 21 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $45.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $48.92 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 120.64 yen from 121.11 yen on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1032 from $1.0974.

(BAS)