US STOCKS-Dow, S&P 500 slip as second quarter nears close

Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:19pm EDT

* S&P 500 on track to end June lower, but positive for quarter

* Accenture and BlackBerry both tumble after results

* Dow down 0.5 pct, S&P 500 off 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct

By Alison Griswold

NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) - The Dow and the S&P 500 slipped on Friday as the end of the second quarter approached, with investors finding little reason to push shares higher after a three-day rally.

With less than an hour left in the session, only the Nasdaq was in positive territory.

Stocks opened lower on weakness in technology shares, then fluctuated between steep losses and moderate gains for much of the session before flattening out. Losses in financials and tech weighed on the market, but were partially offset by strength in utilities and consumer discretionary shares.

Analysts said volatility has decreased as investors have come to terms with the fact that the Federal Reserve's stimulus program will eventually come to an end.

"It's not as volatile as it's been over the past week or two so I think the market is actually coming to grips with the idea that very aggressive easy money policy is not a normal state of affairs," said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist of Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

"I think what we've been through the last week is a panic in search of a crisis."

Volatility spiked last week after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested the stimulus could be slowed before the end of the year if the economy is strong enough.

Following two Fed speakers who seemed to back away from Bernanke's comments on Thursday, Fed Governor Jeremy Stein and Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker sounded a more aggressive tone on Friday on when the central bank's unprecedented policy accommodation might be reduced.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are on track to end a seven-month winning streak, while the Dow is set to conclude a six-month surge. So far this month, the Dow is down 0.8 percent, the S&P 500 is down 1 percent and the Nasdaq is down 1.1 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 71.48 points or 0.48 percent, to 14,953.01, the S&P 500 lost 2.77 points or 0.17 percent, to 1,610.43 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.87 points or 0.23 percent, to 3,409.74.

Before Friday, the three major U.S. stock indexes had climbed for three straight days on diminished concern that the Federal Reserve would bring an imminent end to its $85 billion a month in bond purchases, known as quantitative easing.

For the week, the S&P 500 is up 1.4 percent, the Dow is up 1.2 percent and the Nasdaq is up 1.7 percent.

For the second quarter, the Dow is up 2.8 percent, the S&P 500 is up 2.6 percent and the Nasdaq is up 4.5 percent.

Accenture PLC dropped 10.7 percent to $71.65, making it the biggest drag on the S&P 500 after the company cut its full-year outlook. The results also prompted investors to sell some shares of competitor IBM, which fell 2.6 percent to $190.63. IBM was the biggest drag on the Dow.

U.S.-listed shares of Research in Motion plunged 27.6 percent to $10.48 after the BlackBerry maker reported an unexpected quarterly operating loss, a dearth of details on sales of its make-or-break new line of devices and no return to profit expected in the current quarter.

Arch Coal Inc gained 4.2 percent to $3.75 after the company agreed to sell its Canyon Fuel subsidiary for $435 million in cash.

Investors can expect a volume surge at the close when Russell Investments is expected to set the final update for the annual reconstitution of its indexes.

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