Stocks End Lower, Led by Techs; Apple Falls 4% for Week
Stocks ended near session lows in light volume trading Friday, dragged by techs, as investors remained on the sidelines ahead of the weekend amid ongoing worries over the looming "fiscal cliff."
All three major averages finished in the red for the week.
"You see many investors pulling money off the table going into the weekend simply because of how volatile the news is and of course, we have a ticking time bomb in terms of the amount of time we actually have to get a fiscal deal," said Michael Yoshikami, founder and CEO of Destination Wealth Management.
U.S. Major Index Performance MTD, QTD & YTD
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined for a third session, sliding 35.71 points, or 0.27 percent, to close at 13,135.01, led by American Express and Microsoft. Hewlett-Packard led the blue-chip gainers.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended at 17.
For the week, the Dow fell 0.15 percent, the S&P erased 0.32 percent, and the Nasdaq slipped 0.23 percent. Wal-Mart was the biggest weekly Dow laggard, while H-P rallied.
Most key S&P sectors closed in negative territory, led by techs and telecoms. Materials ended modestly higher.
Apple fell nearly 4 percent after UBS cut its target price on the tech giant to $700 from $780, citing signs that the iPhone's production rate is declining and adding that iPhone 5 sales in China may not do as well as the previous model. The iPhone 5 debuted in China Friday. Separately, Jefferies trimmed its iPhone shipment estimates for the first quarter.
"I still think Apple is a reasonable stock," said Yoshikami."I still think technology is going to be a huge tail-wind industry and I think that's going to result in higher stock prices." (Read More: Nothing Rotten About Apple: Analyst)
Ongoing "fiscal cliff" discussions have kept investors cautious over the last few weeks. Most recently, President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House late Thursday to discuss how to resolve the looming economic problems. (Read More: 'Cliff' Talks 'Getting Worse, Not Better')
The meeting came shortly after Boehner accused Obama of dragging out negotiations.
"There will be some sort of compromise by year-end and while that's mostly priced into the market, we may see a relief rally," said Kevin Mahn, president and CIO of Hennion & Walsh. "Investors need to look beyond the [talks in Washington] and diversify their investments in growth areas, while keeping a bit of downside protection in case the fiscal cliff issues linger for a long time."
Facebook declined as the social-networking giant's last lock-up lifted, with another 156 million shares of the company becoming eligible for sale.
Best Buy was sharply lower after the consumer electronic retailer agreed to extend the deadline to the end of February for founder Richard Schulze to make a bid for the company. The prior deadline was December 16.
General Electric edged higher after the conglomerate boosted its dividend by 12 percent and also authorized another share repurchase program of $10 billion. GE is the minority shareholder of NBCUniversal.
Among earnings, Adobe Systems jumped after the computer software company topped earnings expectations. Meanwhile,Verifone slumped after the electronic payment company posted revenue below forecasts and handed in a weaker-than-expected current-quarter quarterly guidance.
On the economic front, consumer prices slipped 0.3 percent in November for the first time in six months, according to the Labor Department. Economists had expected a decline of 0.2 percent.
Meanwhile, industrial production jumped 1.1 percent in November, posting its biggest gain in nearly two years, according to the Federal Reserve, topping expectations for a gain of 0.3 percent.
Manufacturing growth in China hit a 14-month high in December, according to the latest HSBC flash PMI report, with gains in sectors including new orders and employment highlighting a rosier outlook for the economy in months to come.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Empire state mfg survey, Treasury int'l capital, Fed's Lacker speaks, 2-yr note auction, GE annual outlook mtg
TUESDAY: Current account, housing market index, 5-yr note auction, Fed's Fisher speaks; Earnings from Oracle
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage apps, housing starts, oil inventories, 7-yr note auction; Earnings from FedEx, General Mills, Accenture, Bed Bath & Beyond
THURSDAY: GDP, jobless claims, corporate profits, existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed survey, FHFA home price index, leading indicators, Fed balance sheet/money supply, UPS busiest day; Earnings froM CarMax, ConAgra, Darden Restaurants, Discover Financial, Rite Aid, Nike, RIMM, Micron
FRIDAY: Quadruple witching, personal income & outlays, Chicago Fed activity index, consumer sentiment, BLS state employment stats; Earnings from Walgreen
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