"At this point, most traders I feel are going into the weekend somewhat flat. No need to be a hero," notes Scott Redler of T3Live.com.
Oil was lower Thursday, after running up this week on concerns that a U.S. action against Syria could lead to retaliation that would hurt oil supplies. Late in the day Thursday, the British parliament rejected a motion supporting military action in Syria, and in the U.S., national security officials were briefing members of Congress in the early evening. Any action against Syria, which the Obama Administration says used chemical weapons on its citizens, looked like it would be after United Nations investigators report back their findings, after leaving Syria Saturday.
(Read more: Syria conflict and the oil market: Worst and best scenarios)
Even though it may be quiet in markets Friday, anxiety has been building ahead of September, historically the worst month for stocks. This September will be especially difficult to navigate with the monthly employment report next week and the Fed's decision whether to taper its bond buying or not, expected Sept. 18. Syria has entered the picture as another potential negative in just the last week.
"That's what's roiling the market now, both pro and con," said Milton Ezrati, market strategist and senior economist at Lord Abbett. "If the Syrian situation looks like it's calm, and nobody's going to act in any violent way…then it will be quiet" ahead of the long weekend.
"They will be taking a wait and see attitude. If the president can find a channel where he doesn't look like he's dithering, or inviting war, that could make the market scream higher," Ezrati said.
Redler said the market is lacking the normal dip buyers, who have been stepping into every shallow correction. "We put a pivot low in at (S&P) 1627. Some active guys will trade long against that. But if we get a break and close below that, the bears will be growling for the 200-day and a retest of the June lows which stand at 1560ish," Redler noted.
(Read more: Once investors 'wake up to reality,' gold will soar: Schiff)