U.S. stocks were little changed on disappointing economic data on Friday, the first trading day of 2015.
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 9.92 points, or 0.06 percent, to 17,832.99. The S&P 500 edged down 0.70 point, or 0.03 percent, to 2,058.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index went down 9.24 points, or 0.20 percent, to 4,726.81.
U.S. stocks had a volatile trading session. The three benchmark indices rebounded broadly at the opening bell from Wednesday's sharp declines, pared gains later in the morning due to soft data, and then wavered below flatline before closing mixed. Trading volume was light in the wake of the New Year holiday.
Economic data came out negative. The manufacturing index, also known as the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), dropped 3.2 points from November to 55.5 in December, the slowest monthly growth in six months, said the Institute for supply management Friday.
The report from financial data firm Markit also showed that U.S. manufacturing output growth slowed again in December. The final seasonally adjusted Markit U.S. manufacturing PMI fell from 54.8 in November to 53.9 in December, indicating the weakest improvement in overall manufacturing sector business conditions since January, according to the report.
Moreover, construction spending slipped 0.3 percent in November after a 1.2-percent rebound in October due to weak orders and production, short of market expectations of a 0.5-percent gain, said the Commerce Department.
On a weekly basis, the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite capped the holiday-shortened week with losses, down 1.2 percent, 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.
As the New Year unfolds, investors shifted their focus to the timing of the Federal Reserve's first interest rate hike, which would be a dominating theme in U.S. stock markets this year.
For the year 2014, the Dow went up 7.5 percent, logging its sixth straight annual gains, while the S&P 500 rose 11.4 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 13.4 percent, both for three consecutive years.