Stocks eased off their lows but still failed to close in positive territory Friday, as gains were limited following a robust rally in recent weeks and no major news on the economic front gave investors little reason to jump in.
Still, the S&P and Nasdaq squeezed out small gains for the week.
Shortly after the market closed, Wall Street Journal reported that Citigroup's Chairman Richard Parsons will be stepping down from the board. Citigroup is expected to elect Michael O'Neill as the new Chairman, according to the report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 2.73 points, or 0.02 percent to close at 12,977.57, led by AmEx .
The S&P 500 fell 4.47 points, or 0.33 percent, to end at 1,369.62. The Nasdaq declined 12.78 points, or 0.43 percent, to finish at 2,976.19. Meanwhile, the Russell 2000logged its lowest close since January 31.
Both the Dow and Nasdaq hit significant milestones hit earlier this week. The Dow ended above 13,000 Tuesday for the first time since May 2008, while the Nasdaq briefly crossed the 3,000 level Wednesday for the first time since December 2000.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended slightly above 17.
For the week, the Dow erased 0.04 percent, while the S&P gained 0.28 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.42 percent. H-P was the biggest laggard on the Dow, while JPMorgan was the top gainer.
Consumer discretionary rallied the most among top S&P sectors, while energy dragged.
Yelp spiked over 60 percent in its market debutafter after the consumer review website priced its IPO at $15 per share. The IPO values Yelp at $900 million.
“The market is taking a breather right now,” said Kevin Mahn, president and CIO of Hennion & Walsh Asset Management. “We’ve had much to digest on the economic front this week—we saw some encouraging news from the jobs front, but we still have concerns with rising gas prices, tensions in the Middle East and the ongoing saga in Greece and Europe.”
Oil prices eased from Thursday’s 11-month highfollowing news the reports of a Saudi pipeline explosion were said to be false, easing fears of supply disruption.
Major oil giants including ExxonMobil , Chevron and ConcoPhillips slipped.
“We as consumers are much more sensitive to increases at the pump,” said Richard Soultanian, co-president, of NUS Consulting Group. “Once we tip the $4 (a gallon) mark, that will hit people in the wallet and as a result, we’ll see more pullback in disposable income.”
Soultanian says the oil market is expected to remain "intense" for the foreseeable future. One of the biggest events will be early next week when President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss further measures on halting Iran's controversial nuclear program.