Stocks Close Lower; Dow, S&P Off But Nasdaq Up for Week

Stocks closed lower on Friday and the Dow and S&P logged their third straight day of declines as rising crude-oil prices kept investors on the sidelines.

"You're seeing a little bit more of the consolidation that we've been having recently," said Cowen and Company analyst Mike Malone. "We had a very good week last week so the market drifted lower this week on low volume and we're seeing that again today, but nothing has fundamentally changed."

Malone said the S&P 500 has had trouble surpassing the psychological level of 1460. "We've been up to that level two times this week and failed both times," he noted.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all closed Friday with modest declines as midday buying pared the bulk of the day's losses.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 ended with small weekly losses of 0.94% and 0.30%, respectively, while the Nasdaq rose 0.75% for the week. The Dow's weekly decline was the blue chip index's largest since the week ended Aug. 11.

The Dow Jones Utility Average closed at a new record high as investors flocked to shares of safe haven utility companies. Energy shares also fared well as oil climbed to its highest level in eight weeks but the oil-sensitive transportation sector fell.

Chip stocks came back in favor with investors this week as the sector closed with a 3.25% weekly gain, sparked by a strong earnings report from Analog Devices last Wednesday. On the losing side, airline stocks and homebuilding shares each fell more than 2% for the week.

New York light crude futures rose on the New York Mercantile Exchange as tensions between Iran and the United Nations continue to rise. The commodity opened above $61 and rose as high as $61.80 before ending at $60.92.

Selling of Dow components Microsoft, JP MorganChase and General Motors dragged down the blue-chip index. Shares of Microsoft fell after a federal jury held the software giant liable for infringing on patents held by Alcatel-Lucent and awarded the latter $1.5 billion. Microsoft said it will appeal.

BEA Systems shares plunged after the business software firm reported fourth-quarter sales and issued a first-quarter sales forecast below the Street consensus estimate. Merrill Lynch said Friday the stock was overvalued and the company appears to be losing share to Oracle and IBM.

Home improvement retailer Lowe's gained after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings above analysts' forecasts and provided in-line guidance for the first quarter.

Bond prices rallied, pushing yields lower. The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 3/32 points for the week, sending the yield to its lowest level in six weeks.

Stocks End Higher In Europe, Asia

In Frankfurt, the DAX ended higher as Deutsche Telekom gained 2.7% after German policymakers said they will allow a controversial telecommunications law prohibiting rivals from accessing DT's new ultra high-speed VDSL broadband network.

The CAC-40 closed in Paris slightly higher and the FTSE-100 also rose.

The Nikkei 225 Average ended at a seven-year high led by gains in exporters and property shares such as Mitsubishi Estate, but Sanyo Electric tumbled following reports of accounting problems.

South Korea's Kospi Index finished at a record close as brokerages such as Samsung Securities extended a surge on hopes a market rally may spur more trading, although investors also locked in gains in recent out performers.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell as investors booked profits in China Mobile and other recent gainers. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index set their second straight record close lifted by sharp gains in takeover target Coles and QBE Insurance Group following strong earnings.