US stocks are mixed as robust economic reports and a new budget deal suggest early Fed exit

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Stocks are mixed in midday trading as prospects for a budget deal and more signs of a U.S. recovery suggest that the Federal Reserve may wind down its support for the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 83 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 15,762 at noon (1700 GMT) Thursday. The Dow has fallen seven of the last nine days.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell four points, or 0.2 per cent, at 1,778. The Nasdaq composite rose a point to 4,004.

The four-week average number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits edged up to about where it was before the recession. Also, U.S. shoppers increased their spending last month.

Facebook rose 4 per cent after the stock was added to the S&P 500 index. Lululemon plunged 11 per cent after forecasting weak sales.