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Stocks Little Changed on Downbeat Data

Wall Street had little reason to extend a mid-week rally through to Friday's session after consumer sentiment and industrial production both surprised to the downside.

Stocks were cradling the flatline by midday. The S&P 500 was down 0.06%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.06%, and the Nasdaq was flat.

Consumer sentiment fell to a reading of 89.7 in early April, according to the University of Michigan survey. Economists had expected the measure to increase slightly to 91.8 from a reading of 91 in March. Consumers' view of current economic conditions worsened, while expectations fell to 79.6 from 81.5. Those surveyed reported a slowdown in expected wage gains, weaker income expectations, and concern that slowing economic growth would impact the number of jobs created.

U.S. industrial production fell 0.6% in March, according to the Federal Reserve, far steeper than an expected 0.1% decline. Manufacturing fell 0.3%, dragged down by a decline in automobile production. Industrial output was down 2.2% for the first quarter. Output declined for the sixth time in seven months.

Worries over whether the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries can agree on a production agreement flared ahead of a weekend meeting. Crude prices...