Stocks pared losses but remained lower ahead of the weekend amid surging oil prices, and as Congress seemed on track to trigger a government shutdown by failing to agree to a budget for the rest of the fiscal year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 30 points, after dropping more than 80 earlier, a day after a volatile session triggered by news of a second earthquake in Japan.
Among Dow components, Cisco and Alcoa fell, while Merck and Pfizer rose.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also declined. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 17.
Among key S&P sectors, industrials and financials fell, while energy and health care rose.
Most of the market action on Friday was in commodities as gold soared to yet another new record, closing above $1,473 an ounce. Meanwhile, the dollar sank against the euro, which rose after the European Central Bank raised a key interest rateby 0.25 percent on Thursday.
Oil prices jumped to new records amid attacks on Libyan oil fields, and the sinking dollar. London Brent crude surged above $124 a barrel, while U.S. light crude rose $2.49 to settle at $112.79 a barrel, its highest close since September 2008.Page 1 of 6 | Next Page