Stocks ended flat in lackluster trading Friday, but major averages finished sharply lower for the week as worries over the election, the looming "fiscal cliff" and a slew of weak earnings results kept investors on edge.
Major U.S. Indexes
The S&P 500 erased 1.03 points, or 0.07 percent, to end at 1411.94. The Nasdaq squeezed out a gain of 1.83 points, or 0.06 percent. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended below 18.
For the week, the Dow dropped 1.77 percent, the S&P 500 fell 1.48 percent, and the Nasdaq slipped 0.59 percent. DuPont was the biggest weekly laggard on the Dow, while Intel was the best performer.
All key S&P sectors finished in the red for the week, dragged by materials and energy.
Economic growth ticked up in the third quarter, with the gross domestic product expanding at a 2.0 percent annual rate, according to the Commerce Department. The economy grew at a 1.3 percent pace in the second quarter.
And consumer sentiment rose to 82.6 in October, hitting its highest level in five years, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall index. The index was at 78.3 in September. Still, the reading was slightly below the preliminary reading of 83.1 and shy of expectations for 83.
"Investors will continue to focus on the flavor of the week: earnings," according to Todd Schoenberger, managing principal at The BlackBay Group. "And, considering the horrific forward guidance given by many marquee names, stocks may be in for a rough time over the next few weeks."
On the earnings front, Dow component Merck reported quarterly results that topped expectations and added it continues to expect full-year revenue to be at or near 2011 levels on a constant currency basis.
So far, approximately 54 percent of S&P 500 companies posted quarterly results, with nearly 63 percent of firms topping earnings expectations. Meanwhile, only 37 percent of companies have beaten revenue estimates, according to data from Thomson Reuters.
Citigroup was fined $2 million by Massachusetts regulators after a junior research analyst disclosed confidential information about Facebook's IPO. Meanwhile, Citigroup dismissed its Internet technology analyst Mark Mahaney, following the termination of a junior analyst on Sept. 27. Meanwhile, Facebook shares surged nearly 16 percent this week, boosted by better-than-expected quarterly results on Tuesday.
UBS may cut as many as 10,000 jobs, or about a sixth of the total workforce, according to a report from the Financial Report. The move would be in addition to a separate ongoing plan to eliminate 3,500 positions.
European shares ended slightly higher, but gains were limited following a handful of disappointing corporate earnings.
Meanwhile, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud in connection with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television company.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Personal income & outlays, Dallas Fed mfg survey, Facebook lockup expiration, Google event; Earnings from Burger King Worldwide, Baidu
TUESDAY: S&P Case-Shiller home price index, consumer confidence, Fed's Dudley speaks, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks; Earnings from BP, Ford, Pfizer, UBS, Sirius XM, U.S. Steel, Valero Energy, EA, Take Two, Dreamworks, Shutterfly
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, Chicago PMI, oil inventories, Fed's Williams speaks, farm prices; Earnings from Arcelor Mittal, GM, GlaxoSmithKline, MasterCard, Barclays, Clorox, Ralph Lauren, Time Warner Cable, Visa, Allstate, MetLife, Murphy Oil
THURSDAY: Challenger job-cut report, ADP employment report, jobless claims, productivity and costs, ISM mfg index, construction spending, auto sales, chain-store sales, Facebook's "gifts" event, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed's Rosengren speaks; Earnings from ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Cigna, Kellogg, AIG, Chesapeake Energy, Hartford Financial, Newmont Mining, Starbucks, Open Table, WebMD, Yelp
FRIDAY: Non-farm payrolls, factory orders, Fed's Williams speaks, Wynn shareholders meeting; Earnings from Chevron
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