Stocks eased off their lows but still failed to close in positive territory Friday, as gains were limited following a robust rally in recent weeks and no major news on the economic front gave investors little reason to jump in.
Still, the S&P and Nasdaq squeezed out small gains for the week.
Shortly after the market closed, Wall Street Journal reported that Citigroup's Chairman Richard Parsons will be stepping down from the board. Citigroup is expected to elect Michael O'Neill as the new Chairman, according to the report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 2.73 points, or 0.02 percent to close at 12,977.57, led by AmEx .
The S&P 500 fell 4.47 points, or 0.33 percent, to end at 1,369.62. The Nasdaq declined 12.78 points, or 0.43 percent, to finish at 2,976.19. Meanwhile, the Russell 2000logged its lowest close since January 31.
Both the Dow and Nasdaq hit significant milestones hit earlier this week. The Dow ended above 13,000 Tuesday for the first time since May 2008, while the Nasdaq briefly crossed the 3,000 level Wednesday for the first time since December 2000.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended slightly above 17.
For the week, the Dow erased 0.04 percent, while the S&P gained 0.28 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.42 percent. H-P was the biggest laggard on the Dow, while JPMorgan was the top gainer.
Consumer discretionary rallied the most among top S&P sectors, while energy dragged.
Yelp spiked over 60 percent in its market debutafter after the consumer review website priced its IPO at $15 per share. The IPO values Yelp at $900 million.
“The market is taking a breather right now,” said Kevin Mahn, president and CIO of Hennion & Walsh Asset Management. “We’ve had much to digest on the economic front this week—we saw some encouraging news from the jobs front, but we still have concerns with rising gas prices, tensions in the Middle East and the ongoing saga in Greece and Europe.”
Oil prices eased from Thursday’s 11-month highfollowing news the reports of a Saudi pipeline explosion were said to be false, easing fears of supply disruption.
Major oil giants including ExxonMobil , Chevron and ConcoPhillips slipped.
“We as consumers are much more sensitive to increases at the pump,” said Richard Soultanian, co-president, of NUS Consulting Group. “Once we tip the $4 (a gallon) mark, that will hit people in the wallet and as a result, we’ll see more pullback in disposable income.”
Soultanian says the oil market is expected to remain "intense" for the foreseeable future. One of the biggest events will be early next week when President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss further measures on halting Iran's controversial nuclear program.
Alcoa slipped even after Nomura started coverage of the aluminum producer with a "neutral" rating and a target price of $12.
Fellow Dow component Travelers also declined after Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the insurance company to "equal weight" from "overweight."
Wynn jumped even after the resort operator said that its earlier filing regarding Land Concession Contract to open a second casino in Macu was filed by mistake by the company's agent . The filing was not authorized by the company. Shares were halted earlier.
Shutterfly surged after the photo publisher agreed to buy bankrupt Kodak's online business for $24 million.
Zynga pared sharp gains after news the online gaming company's lead designer Michael McCormick is leaving the firm to become director of game design at Idle Games.
GM was unchanged after reports the automaker will temporarily lay off 1,300 Volt workers for five weeks and halt production of the model for almost a month, beginning in mid-March.
Big Lots posted better-than-expected results, but shares slumped after the retailer forecast first-quarter profit largely below analysts' expectations.
Sara Lee soared after the food and drink maker said it expects the spin-off of its coffee and tea business to be finished by the end of June. Additionally, the company said it would pay a $3 dividend to its shareholders soon after the divestment of its coffee and tea business.
Job numbers for February will be out a week later than usual , making Friday a light day for economic data.
—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC —
Coming Up Next Week:
MONDAY: Factory orders, ISM non-mfg indexTUESDAY: Earnings from Dicks Sporting Goods, PandoraWEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, Challenger job-cut report, ADP employment report, productivity & costs, oil inventories, consumer credit; Earnings from American Eagle, Hovnanian, H&R BlockTHURSDAY: Jobless claims, quarterly services survey; Earnings from Smithfield Foods, AeropostaleFRIDAY: Non-farm payrolls, international trade, wholesale trade; Earnings from Ann
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