Stocks end week down, shaken by global woes
The Dow average rose 59 points on Friday, but was down 1 percent for the week.
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And AIG gained after news the insurer offered to buy back $15.7 billion in mortgage-backed securities the government took from the insurer during the financial crisis. AIG is paying for the securities with cash.
Among retail stocks, Ann Taylor soared after reporting strong fourth-quarter earnings.
Volume on the consolidated tape of the New York Stock Exchange was 3.7 billion shares, while 922 million changed hands on the NYSE floor.
"By and large the stock market has acted pretty well given the increasing headwinds it's seen over the past few weeks," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group. "Anytime the market is up 100 percent in the space of 24 months it’s certainty reasonable to see some profit taking, and that seems to be what we’ve experienced in recent sessions."
Sheldon added that he wouldn't be surprised to see the markets dip a few percentage points lower over the next few weeks, and said the direction of oil prices will continue to play a key role in the market's direction. But, he said, "if job creation continues to improve, that will be a very positive sign for the U.S. economy."
Business inventories rose 0.9 percent in January, the highest level in two years, compared with a 1.1 percent gain in December, the Commerce Department reported. Business sales rose 2.0 percent in January, the fastest pace in nine months, compared with a 1.6 percent gain in December. Economists polled by Reuters had expected inventories to rise 0.7 percent.
Also retail sales rose 1.0 percent in February, up from 0.7 percent in January, the Commerce Department reported. The gain was the biggest since October, and in line with expectations of economists surveyed by Reuters.
In Europe, investors will turn their attention to a meeting of the leaders of the 17 countries that share the euro later on Friday. They will discuss the bloc’s response to violence in Libya as well as the debt crisis that has hit the region’s peripheral nations.