Contributing to the negative sentiment on Friday has been mixed earnings guidance from companies delivering earnings results this week, said Doreen Mogavero of Mogavero Lee, a brokerage.
"I think a lot of people are paying attention to guidance this week," Mogavero said. "There seems to be some concern about the future," she added. "More and more people are talking about the fact the economy is recovering slower than we thought it would."
Citigroup traded slightly lower even after the bank announced it would resinstate its quarterly stock dividendto one cent a share, payable on June 17.
Yahoo dragged the Nasdaq lower, after Alibaba Group, which is 43 percent owned by Yahoo, restructured Alipay, one of its businesses, without the knowledge of Yahoo or Softbank, another stakeholder.
Rambus was another drag on the tech-heavy Nasdaq, plunging after news that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded the tech licensing company destroyed documents in patent infringement cases against Hynix Semiconductor and Micron. The cases were returned to district court.
Meanwhile, AIG gained after it was upgraded to "market perform" from "underperform" at Wells Fargo. AIG is in the process of preparing a secondary stock offering.
Tyco gained after a report in the New York Post that the company is in early-stage talks with Schneider-Electric for a $30 billion takeover, citing sources close to the situation. But a spokesman for Schneider, a French company, denied the report and said no deal was in the works.
In earnings news, Dillard's soared after the retailer reported a 57 percent profit gain and sales and margins improved, while Nordstrom slumped after the department store chain reducing its outlook for the year.
Nvidia , meanwhile, sank after the chipmaker cited worries about competition in PC graphics. Citigroup and Bank of America cuts the company's price target, while Needham cut the company to "hold" from "buy." But FBR raised Nvidia's price target to $23 a share from $22.
In other retail news, Wal-Mart traded flat after the big-box retailer said plans to buy a minority stake in the holding company for Yihaodian, a Chinese e-commerce firm.
Health care stocks got a boost from JPMorgan, which upgraded the sector to "overweight" from "neutral." Agilent , Cigna and Aetna gained.
Elsewhere, Facebookhas admitted that it had secretly hired a PR firm to generate stories critical to the way Google handles privacy.
In initial public offerings news, BATS Global Markets, an electronic exchange for stocks and derivatives, plans to sell stock to the public. The amount of the offering hasn't been determined.
On the economic front, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment indexfor May rose to 72.4 from 69.8 in April. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected the index to rise to 70.
The consumer price index gained 0.4 percentin April, largely due to rising food and energy costs, compared with a 0.5 percent gain in March, the Labor Department said. The result was in line with expectations.
The core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.2 percent in April, up from a 0.1 percent gain in March, the government said. Gasoline prices rose 3.3 percent in April, which accounted for nearly half the rise in the overall CPI.
European shares fell after hawkish commentsby European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet.
And the Greek debt problem continued to unfold, with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou saying that the current spreads of Greek bond yields over those of other euro zone states were not sustainable in a monetary union.
Meanwhile, European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said Greece seemed not to have met the terms of its international bailout lately.
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Empire state manufacturing survey, Treasury international capital, housing market index, 13-F filings due; earnings from JCPenney and Lowe's.
TUESDAY: Housing starts, industrial production, JPMorgan shareholder meeting, Shell Oil annual meeting; earnings from Home Depot, Wal-Mart, TJX and Dell.
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications, oil inventories, FOMC minutes, Fed's Bullard speaks; earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, BJ's, Target and HP.
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators, money supply, Halliburton shareholder meeting, Intel shareholder meeting, McDonald's shareholder meeting, Sallie Mae annual meeting, LinkedIn IPO; earnings from GameStop, Sears and Gap.
FRIDAY: JCPenney shareholder meeting, Macy's shareholder meeting, Time Warner shareholder meeting; earnings from Ann Taylor
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