Stocks Retreat: Dow Halts 10-Day Winning Streak, but Ends Positive for 4th-Straight Week
Stocks finished in negative territory Friday, with the Dow snapping a 10-day win streak and the S&P 500 ending shy of its record closing level, following a disappointing consumer sentiment report and as investors started to question whether the recent rally has run out of steam.
(Read More: No 'Irrational Exuberance' in Stocks Now: Greenspan)
"Don't forget, we're up 11 percent this quarter (on the Dow) and so I wouldn't be surprised if it continues to churn here," said Kenny Polcari, director at O'Neil Securities. "I don't' suspect [the market] is going to fall off the edge at all, but I don't necessarily see it going markedly going higher by the end of the quarter."
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Still, the blue-chip index logged its fourth-straight week of gains and is up an impressive 11 percent so far this year.
(Read More: Will the Ides of March Kill the Rally?)
The S&P 500 erased 2.51 points to end at 1,560.72, almost 5 points short of its 2007 closing high. The Nasdaq declined 9.86 points to finish at 3,249.07. Still, both indexes posted their third-consecutive week of gains.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended near 11.
Among key S&P sectors, financials closed higher for the week, while telecoms slumped.
"We're near the all-time high and you'd have to start betting on a mean reversion," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners.
On the economic front, consumer sentiment dropped 71.8 in early March, tumbling to its lowest since December 2011, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary reading. Economists expected a reading of 78.
"One bad news is not enough to take us too much lower," said Battle. "What's given us the run is most the economic news that's been positive … But sooner or later, the market's going to have to retrench."
South Korean tech giant Samsung unveiled its widely-anticipated Galaxy S4 smartphone, with a range of features including the ability for users to control the screen using their eyes and a dual camera function that can take two pictures at once. Analysts say the new smartphone may pose a threat to rival Apple and the iPhone's dominance of the U.S. market.
Still, Apple fanatics and investors largely shrugged off the launch, as shares of the iPhone maker advanced more than 2 percent. Separately, UBS lowered its price target on the company to $560 from $600, citing increased caution on near-term demand given the anticipation of new Apple devices and growing competition.
(Read More: Apple About to Make 'Dramatic' Cash Move: Pro)
Among financials, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan received conditional approval for their capital payout from the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America were among names whose capital plans were approved. but BB&T and Ally Financial did not pass.
Carnival declined after the world's largest cruise company posted lower revenue per cabin and cut its full-year guidance, citing weakness in Europe and pricing promotions. Earlier this week, the company cut short a Caribbean cruise after an engine problem idled its Carnival Dream ship in St. Maarten.
Also on the economic front, consumer prices recorded their largest increase in nearly four years in February, but details of the report on Friday showed no sign of a pickup in inflation to trouble the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, And industrial production grew in February.
(Read More: Stocks Could Hit New High With US Data on a Roll)
Investors also kept an eye on Washington where President Barack Obama seemed no closer to striking a deal on deficit reduction after a long session on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, European shares ended lower as finance ministers in Europe geared up for a late night of talks aimed at thrashing out a bailout program for troubled Cyprus.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Housing market index, MGM board mtg
TUESDAY: Housing starts, FOMC mtg begins, Obama travels to Israel, Hostess hearing; Earnings from DSW, Adobe Systems
WEDNESDAY: Mortgage applications, oil inventories, FOMC mtg announcement, Fed forecasts, Bernanke press conference, Hewlett-Packard shraeholders mtg; Earnings from FedEx, General Mills, Jabil Circuit, Oracle
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, PMI manufacturing index flash, FHFA home price index, existing hom esales, Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators, natural gas inventories, Fed balance sheet/money supply; Earnings from Lululemon Athletica, Ross Stores, Nike
FRIDAY: Fed Governor Raskin speaks, Blackberry Z10 on sale via AT&T; Earnings from Darden Restaurants, KBHome, Tiffany
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