NEW YORK | After last year's big party in the stock market, 2014 is starting off with a nagging hangover.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged a fraction of a point lower on Friday, beginning a year with a two-day losing streak for the first time since 2005.
While few analysts expect 2014 to produce gains comparable to last year's advance of nearly 30 percent, many see a moderate increase as the economy continues to improve and investors move funds out of bonds and into stocks, which are generating much bigger returns for investors.
"The market is trying to find some direction here," said Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors. "We're in for a few days of trying to figure out whether we inch a little higher or see some down days."
The S&P 500 index fell 0.61 points, or 0.03 percent, to 1,831.37 and was 0.5 percent lower for the week.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 28.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,469.99. The Nasdaq composite fell 11.16 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,131.91.
General Motors was among the stocks that posted the biggest losses in the S&P 500. The automaker fell $1.38, or 3.4 percent, to $39.57 after reporting a U.S. sale slump of more than 6 percent in December.
Energy companies have also started the year with declines as the price of oil falls.