Three strikes, Dow's out
Blue-chip barometer falls for three days in a row as investors eye higher oil and gold prices; losses in subprime mortgage sector also factor.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks fell Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average down for the third straight session, as investors focused on higher oil and gold prices in addition to concerns about the subprime mortgage market.
The Dow (down 38.54 to 12,647.48, Charts) and the broader S&P 500 (down 5.19 to 1,451.19, Charts) index lost around 0.3 percent.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq (down 9.84 to 2,515.10, Charts) composite was down 0.4 percent after ending the previous session at a six-year high for the third day in a row.
For the week, the Dow fell 0.9 percent, the S&P 500 was down 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq gained 0.7 percent. But for the month, the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq are all on track to end slightly higher.
Blue chips slumped Wednesday and Thursday in response to higher oil prices and the latest news of geopolitical unrest in the Middle East. Those concerns continued to weigh Friday, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners.
"In the absence of any economic news, and with oil and gold prices continuing to move higher on geopolitical concerns, investors are becoming a little skittish," Cardillo said.
U.S. light crude oil for April delivery rose 19 cents to $61.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, giving back bigger gains.
Prices have risen over the last two sessions in response to a slide in weekly crude inventories and Iran's stance on nuclear weapons, announced on Wednesday.
COMEX gold for April delivery added $3.70 to $686.70 an ounce.
Concerns about the mortgage sector also weighed on gauges, as subprime mortgage companies' shares plummeted, triggering broader economic concerns.
On the move
Of the 30 stocks in the Dow, 22 fell and 8 rose.
Shares of Dow component Microsoft (down $0.49 to $28.90, Charts) continued to weaken after a U.S. federal jury ruled Thursday that the software leader infringed on audio patents held by Alcatel-Lucent (up $0.22 to $13.36, Charts) and should pay $1.52 billion in damages. Microsoft shares fell 1.5 percent, while Alcatel-Lucent shares gained 1.5 percent.
Lowe's (up $1.30 to $34.93, Charts) reported lower fourth-quarter earnings that nonetheless topped estimates and also issued a first-quarter and full-year forecast that is in line with analysts' estimates. Shares of the home improvement retailer gained 4 percent, while rival Home Depot (down $0.22 to $40.96, Charts) edged lower.
BEA Systems (down $1.25 to $11.95, Charts) sank 10 percent in unusually active Nasdaq trading after issuing a fiscal first-quarter revenue forecast that is below current forecasts. The outlook overshadowed the business software-maker's higher fourth-quarter revenue.
Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. (down $0.26 to $7.32, Charts), which makes home loans to people with weak credit, posted $64 million quarterly loss, sending shares of the company down 3.5 percent. Other subprime lenders also took a hit, including American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. (down $0.97 to $29.04, Charts) and IndyMac Bancorp (down $0.85 to $35.15, Charts).
Circuit City (down $0.39 to $20.39, Charts) lost 2 percent after the electronics retailer said its chief financial officer is leaving to join PetCo Animal Supplies.
Yum Brands (down $0.55 to $60.51, Charts) fell 1 percent after rats were seen scurrying around a closed KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in New York City.
The rise in oil prices boosted oil services stocks but weighed on companies that depend directly on fuel, such as airlines and other transportation.
Continental Airlines (down $1.20 to $43.04, Charts), Southwest Airlines (down $0.21 to $15.40, Charts), UAL Corp. (down $0.65 to $42.74, Charts) and AMR (down $0.79 to $37.23, Charts) were all lower.
The Dow Jones Transportation (down 4.36 to 5,158.93, Charts) average lost 0.8 percent, after hitting a record high earlier in the week.
Market breadth was negative. On the New York Stock Exchange, losers edged out winners on volume of 1.4 billion shares. On the Nasdaq, decliners topped advancers by a margin of 9 to 7 on volume of 2.1 billion shares.
Treasury prices rose, lowering the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to 4.67 percent from 4.73 percent late Wednesday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
In currency trading, the dollar fell versus the euro and slipped versus the yen.
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