U.S. stocks lost much of their gains on Friday, with the S&P 500 still managing a record close and equities posting a monthly gain.
Rumors about possible Russian action in the Ukraine were cited as a potential factor in stocks pulling back late in the session.
The Wall Street Journal, quoting Russia's Interfax news agency, reported Ukraine's acting president claimed Russia sent troops to Crimea and seized Parliament. This followed unconfirmed reports from the BBC and AFP that Russian troops may have entered Crimea.
"That is something we're watching very carefully; it appears that Russia will take an active role in the Ukraine," said Jim Russell, senior equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management, who cited the potential for political disruption as well as possible interruptions to natural-gas supplies and "to some degree global oil output."
That said, "we thought the market was a little ahead of itself with the recent momentum; there's a lot riding on the weather being behind all the soft economic data. Today's pullback is a little cautionary in tone, and it's healthy. Now there's a bit of wait-and-see where we are," Russell said.
Equities had rallied amid a slew of economic reports that had consumer sentiment in February coming in just above expectations, existing-home sales holding steady in January and the U.S. economy growing at a slower-than-previously estimated pace in the final quarter of 2013.
"Clearly the weather is having an impact on economic activity, as that marginal shopper is just not out as they would be. We feel we'll get a payback from a cooped up, restraining winter, and we could see healthy numbers in the spring and summer as people get out and enjoy themselves," said Jim Anderson, an investment specialist for JP Morgan Private Bank in Michigan.