Stocks Open Lower to Extend Recent Slide

U.S. stocks opened slightly lower on Friday, extending losses after two bruising days that have benchmark indexes down roughly 2% for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 15.86 points, or 0.10%, to 15,096.33. The S&P 500 index declined 3.40 points, or 0.20%, to 1,657.92. The Nasdaq Composite lost 1.04 points, or 0.03%, to 3,605.08.

U.S. workers and businesses improved their productivity in the April-to-June period following two straight negative quarters. Productivity rose at a 0.9% annual rate in the second quarter, the Labor Department said Friday.

U.S. housing starts and permits for future home construction rose less than expected in July, suggesting that higher mortgage rates could be slowing the housing market’s momentum. The Commerce Department said on Friday that housing starts increased 5.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000 units. June’s starts were revised up to show a 846,000-unit pace
instead of the previously reported 836,000 units.

From Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Gap Inc to Macy’s Inc and McDonald’s Corp, chains that cater to middle- and lower-income Americans say they are feeling the pinch of an uneven economic recovery.

Activist investor Carl Icahn will ask a Delaware court on Friday to fast-track his lawsuit against Dell Inc (DELL), a key thrust in his months-long effort to derail CEO Michael Dell’s controversial $24.8 billion offer to buy and take private the
No. 3 PC maker.

Facebook Inc. is testing a way to make it easier for its users to make purchases through retailers’ mobile apps. The new service will give consumers an option to prefill their payment information stored on Facebook with the mobile apps of
retailers that partner with the social network.

China’s Ministry of Public Security and a cabinet-level research centre are preparing to investigate IBM Corp, Oracle Corp and EMC Corp over security issues, the official Shanghai Securities News said on Friday.

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