U.S. stocks traded nearly unchanged midday Friday after wavering between small gains and losses in the morning session, as investors were weighing the market's continued record run against generally upbeat data.
At midday, the blue-chip Dow lost 3.47 points, or 0.02 percent, to 17,649.32. The S&P 500 edged down 0.03 point to 2,039.30. The Nasdaq Composite Index ticked up 2.60 points, or 0.06 percent, to 4,682.74.
U.S. retail and food services sales for October increased 0.3 percent in October, said the Commerce Department, beating market consensus of a 0.2-percent rise. Better-than-expected retail sales showed a welcome sign as the holiday shopping season approaches.
The department said in a separate report that U.S. business inventories climbed up 0.3 percent in September, while business sales were virtually unchanged.
Adding more optimism into the market, U.S. consumer sentiment in November jumped to the highest level in over seven years, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan, which showed the preliminary consumer sentiment index registered 89.4, the strongest reading since July 2007, topping market forecast.
However, the price index for U.S. imports dropped 1.3 percent in October, mostly led by falling fuel prices, while export prices fell 1.0 percent, the Labor Department reported.
U.S. stocks have been following the up-and-down pattern in intraday trading over the past few days, as investors are reassessing the valuation of stocks after the recent record- setting streak.
Investors were also keeping an eye on weakening oil prices, which put pressures on energy companies' stocks but provided a boost to consumer spending.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks eked out gains, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average setting all-time intraday and closing highs amid a batch of mixed earnings from major retailers.