Oil prices fell as traders kept their eye on the events in Libya. London Brent crude traded below $114 barrel, while U.S. light sweet crude traded around $101 a barrel.
Energy stocks weakened as oil prices fell. Range Resources , Consol Energy , and Chesapeake Energy led decliners.
In the currency markets, the yen weakened just minutes after the announcement on joint intervention, but investors were still trying to figure outwhether the move will be successful in the long run. Japanese stocks rose on relief that exports will not be hampered by a strong Japanese currency.
Banks got a lift as the Federal Reserve cited "significant improvment" in recently-completed stress tests of 19 of the biggest banks.
Goldman Sachs shares rose after announcing that the Federal Reserve has no problem with its plans to redeem the full number of preferred stock shares held by Berkshire Hathaway .
JPMorgan Chase's shares rose after it announced it would increase its dividend to 25 cents a share from 5 cents a share. Wells Fargo also jumped after the bank's board agreed to a special dividend increase of 7 cents a share in the fiscal first quarter, up from 5 cents a share previously. The board also authorized a $200 million share buyback.
BB&T was the first to announce it would increase its dividend. The bank will boost the dividend by 6.7 percent to 16 cents a share, and will add 1 cent to the dividend in the fiscal second quarter.
Also, SunTrust said it began a $1 billion stock buyback, part of its effort to buyback the preferred stock issued to the U.S. Treasury under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, while PNC said it will consider a dividend boost at its April 7 meeting.
And US Bancorp raised its quarterly dividend to 12-and-a-half cents a share from 5 cents, and said it would repurchase 50 million shares.
Other banks with dividend announcement included Bank of New York Mellon , State Street Bank , and KeyCorp . KeyCorp also plans to repay Tarp funds.
Today is quadruple witching, when contracts on stock index futures, stock index options, stock equity options, and single stock futures expire. This happens once every quarter, on the third Friday of March, June, September and December.
Volatility is common in the market in the week before quadruple witching as trades are settled, although geopolitical events have played a bigger role this week, the settling and rolling over of trades has led to some additional volatlity, Brigandi at Direxion Funds said.
IBM continued to trade higher even after reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the tech giant with bribing government officials in South Korea and China, according to Dow Jones.
Meanwhile a host of companies including Honda , Sony and General Motors were expected to suffer from supply chain disruption as plants remain closed following the disaster last week.
Cisco shares gained after the company said it would pay a cash dividendto shareholders for the first time. The networking giant will pay shareholders 6 cents a share on April 20.
In M&A news, Quest Diagnostics said it will buy rival Celera for about $657 million in cash. Celera is engaged in testing genes.
Nike led consumer discretionary stocks lower after the athletic-wear maker reported a disappointing profit hit by rising oil and cotton prices. The company's shares sank more than 9 percent.
Volume on the consolidated tape of the New York Stock Exchange was 5.1 billion shares, while 1.9 billion changed hands on the NYSE floor.
Treasurys rallied much of the week, driven by investors seeking a safe haven. The 10-year Treasury rose 1 1/32 points this week to 102 30/32, pushing the yield to 3.27 percent. Today the 10-year dropped 8/32 points.
Shares in Europe closed higherafter news of the Libyan ceasefire.
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Obama in Latin America; Fed Chairman Bernanke, FDIC Chair Bair at commercial bankers conference; existing home sales; before-the-bell earnings from Tiffany.
TUESDAY: CTIA Wireless Convention; before-the-bell earnings from Walgreens; after-the-bell earnings from Adobe.
WEDNESDAY: Caterpillar analyst meeting; annual meetings for Disney, HP and Starbucks; mortgage applications, new home sales, oil inventories; before-the-bell earnings from General Mills.
THURSDAY: EU summit; durable goods, jobless claims, natural gas inventories, 10-year TIPS auction, money supply; before-the-bell earnings from Best Buy and ConAgra; after-the-bell earnings from Oracle, Research in Motion.
FRIDAY: USDA food prices outlook; GDP revision, corporate profits, and consumer sentiment.
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