* Congressional leaders vow to find common ground
* Dell shares decline as profit slides 47 percent
* Dow down 0.2 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.02 pct
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Nov 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed
on Friday as initial optimism after congressional leaders vowed
to find common ground on a deal on tax and spending changes
faded in the late afternoon.
The three major indexes had turned higher following the
comments, but gave up the gains to trade flat. Worries about
what the ultimate outcome of the "fiscal cliff" discussions will
be have caused investors to pull out of stocks over the last two
weeks. The S&P 500 is down 1.7 percent for the week.
Democrats said they recognized the need to curb spending and
Republicans said they had agreed to put "revenue on the table"
following a meeting with President Barack Obama.
"Everyone is realizing the policy decisions are not going to
happen any time soon, but they could also have a large impact,"
said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones in St
"So we're seeing the market in a wait-and-see mode, hoping
that we'll see a resolution, but not being certain at this
Investors worry the economy could contract again if no deal
is reached in Washington to avoid the large, automatic budget
cuts and tax hikes that begin to take effect in the new year.
The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 18.97 points,
or 0.15 percent, to 12,523.41. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was off 1.32 points, or 0.10 percent, to 1,352.01. The
Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 0.43 points, or 0.02
percent, at 2,837.36.
Dell Inc helped limit the Nasdaq's gains after
lower PC sales hurt the company's profit. Dell slumped 6.5
percent to $8.94.
More violence in the Middle East also kept investors wary
after Palestinian militants nearly hit Jerusalem with a rocket
for the first time in decades and fired at Tel Aviv for a second
Shares of Penn National Gaming Inc surged 29
percent to $48.55 after the owner of gaming and pari-mutuel
properties said late Thursday it will split its business into
two separate publicly traded companies - a gaming focused real
estate investment trust and a gaming operator.
Sears Holdings Corp late Thursday reported a
quarterly loss that was narrower than expected, but same-store
sales fell on weak demand for electronics, sending shares down
19.1 percent to $47.27.