U.S. stocks turned higher on Friday, with the Dow knocking out an all-time finish, as consumer discretionary and health care companies led late-session gains and momentum stocks bounced back after a three-day slide.
"Every Friday the market has dropped over the last month or two because traders don't want to hold risk with the goings on in Ukraine and all that, so it will be interesting to see if we have a later-day selloff, or maybe there is a little less uncertainty over Ukraine," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer, at BMO Private Bank.
Nvidia shares fell after the computer chip manufacturer's outlook for current-quarter revenue met expectations, but left investors concerned about reduced demand in the PC industry; Apple shares fell after The Financial Times and others reported the consumer technology company was close to paying $3.2 billion to acquire Beats, a headphone company found by rapper Dr. Dre.
Computer Sciences led gains on the S&P 500 after Stifel Nicolaus raised its per-share price target to $68 from $60, with the upgrade coming a day after the provider of IT services reported quarterly earnings, hiked its dividend and announced a $1.5 billion share repurchase program.
Ralph Lauren fell after the clothing retailer that beat expectations, but warned its operating margin would drop as it spends money to further build its network of stores. Merck gained after U.S. regulators approved a drug developed by the pharmaceutical company to prevent blood clots.
After a 37-point rise, and a 52-point fall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 32.37 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,583.34, topping its April 30 close for its second record finish this year. The Dow ended the week 0.2 percent higher.
The advanced 2.85 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,878.48, with consumer discretionary and health care the best performers and utilities and energy faring the worst among its 10 major industry groups. The index finished 0.1 percent lower on the week.
"Yesterday was the seventh attempt at breaking out of the high on the S&P 500 and it failed, which is a a technical move that brings sellers into the market," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlick Securities.
The Nasdaq added 20.37 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,071.87, off 1.3 percent from last Friday's close, its worst week in a month.
For every three shares falling, less than four gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 651 million shares traded. Composite volume exceeded 3 billion.
"The market seems to be in the midst of a consolidation phase; the large-cap indices seem to be correcting, not so much by price but by time. So, the question is, is it just going to be time, or are we entering a phase where we may see some downdraft in equity prices.
The Russell 2000 Index came off lows that had it within a fraction of hitting the more than 10 percent decline from its all-time high of 1,212.82, hit on March 3.
There's a strange disparity to see small cap domestic stocks perform so poorly while the S&P 500 holds in there. That's a dichotomy that's unusual," said Luschini.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude for June delivery lost 27 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $99.99 a barrel; gold futures for June delivery fell 10 cents to end the session at $1,287.60 an an ounce.
A dip below 2.6 by the 10-year "signals a flight to safety out of stocks," said Hogan.
Friday's data had 1.1 percent in March, versus a 0.4 percent estimate.
(This story has been corrected to reflect the correct level of the Russell 2000.)