US Stocks Open Lower Friday

(AP) -- Stocks were slightly lower in early trading on Friday, retreating from highs the market set the day before. The market remains focused on trillions of dollars of potential government aid that could be coming for the economy, as Democrats move forward with their stimulus package.

The S&P 500 index was down less than 0.1% as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.2%. The Russell 2000 index of small companies was down 0.5%.

Investors are hoping for a new round of U.S. government aid as the economic recovery falters. The latest U.S. government report on jobless claims reaffirmed that employment remains a weak spot in the economy, even as vaccine distribution ramps up in the hopes of eventually ending the pandemic. The University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment came in well below expectations as well, a sign that consumers are wary to spend in the face of economic uncertainty.

Investors do not expect the market to move substantially higher in the near term until there's more clarity on the future of government stimulus and the direction of the U.S. economy. Democrats have decided to use a legislative process that does not require Republican support to pass the $1.9 trillion package.

Mohawk Industries shares jumped nearly 10% after the company posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings.

Bumble shares rose a further 6%, extending big first-day gains Thursday on the company's initial public offering.

Most Asian markets were closed to mark the Lunar New Year.