Wild Swings to End Week; Techs Gain

Stocks ended a volatile week with wild swings Friday as China's surprise tightening of its lending standards rattled global markets. Investors, keen to play the dips, hit up technology.

"It’s looked upon as the safe play," Steve Grasso, a trader at Stuart Frankel told CNBC. "So guys are pulling money out of things that they were unsure of — and that means everything else besides technology — and putting it back to work … in what they’re calling the old standby, which is technology.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 45.05, or 0.4 percent, to close at 10,099.14, after being down more than 100 points earlier. Intel led a handful of gainers that also included Travelers and Kraft.

All U.S. markets are closed Monday for the President's Day holiday.

All three major indexes snapped a four-week losing streak but the Nasdaq was the week's big winner, ringing up its best week since early January.

Apple , Palm and Motorola were among the notable gainers.

Research In Motion gained about 3 percent after Wedbush Morgan starte coverage of the stock at "outperform," saying it was "exceptionally well positioned."

Though China has been long expected to continue its tightening measures, the timing of the measure caught markets off guard. China raised capital requirements by half a percentage point.

The news boosted the dollar but sent stocks and commodities lower. Crude settled at $74.13 a barrel and gold dropped to $1,090.

Boeing and Alcoa were the biggest drags on the Dow.

Among the day's economic news: U.S. retail sales rose 0.5 percent in January, on target, but auto sales remained weak.

"Consumers have indeed become increasingly open to purchases that extend beyond everyday staples," Brian Sozzi, an equity research analyst at Wall Street Strategies, noted, but cautioned that "February retail sales may break the trend seen in spending since last summer given very poor weather conditions across the country."

Consumer stocks finished mixed, with a handful of retailers gaining.

The Dow's consumer components finished lower, including Procter & Gamble , which was started with an "outperform" rating and price target of $74 by Credit Suisse.

3M shares skidded over 1 percent after Bank of America-Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock to "underperform" from "neutral," saying it sees less upside potential.

Toyota said it's planning a new level of disclosure— beyond the legal requirement — when it comes to safety problems with its vehicles. Its shares rose 1.4 percent.

Berkshire Hathaway shares rose as investors cheered the impending arrival of Warren Buffett's conglomerate on the S&P 500 after the closing bell today. As a result, index funds were selling other stocks which accounted for some of the S&P's decline.

What should you be watching out for next week? Click on the video at left.

Among other U.S. indicators: Reuters and the University of Michigan reported their consumer-sentiment index fell to 73.7 in a mid-February reading from 74.4 at the end of January; economists had been expected the gauge to rise to 75.

And business inventories fell unexpectedly in December, though sales continued to rise.

Europe received more bad news as German GDP disappointed and Greece, not surprisingly, also missed its mark on economic growth.

On the Greece front, the IMF joined the EU, adding its support to the bailout on Friday.

Volume was light, with 8.45 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq combined. Advancers outpaced decliners, roughly 7 to 6.

For the week, materials, consumer discretionary and energy were the best performers. Caterpillar had the most positive impact on the Dow, up nearly 9 percent.

Next week brings earnings reports from Merck , HP , Dell and Wal-Mart . Plus, housing starts and the Philly fed report.

But the big focus will be looking for clues about what the Fed might do next — and when. There are a parade of Fed speakers lined up for next week, plus a pair of inflation readings — CPI and PPI.

Right now, futures suggest the Fed could raise rates as early as August — but are fully pricing in a hike by november.

On Tap for Next Week:

MONDAY: All US financial markets closed for President's Day.
TUESDAY: Empire State manuf. survey; Fed's Lockhart, Kocherlakota speak; NAHB housing index; Earnings from Merck, Kraft, Abercrombie & Fitch and Whole Foods
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps; housing starts; import prices; industrial production; Fed's Plosser speaks; Fed minutes; Earnings from HP, ADI, Nvidia, Priceline
THURSDAY: PPI; weekly jobless claims; leading indicators; Philly Fed; weekly crude inventories; Fed's Duke, Lockhart & Bullard speak; Earnings from Wal-Mart, DirecTV, CBS and Dell
FRIDAY: CPI; Earnigns from JCPenney

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.