* Symantec tumbles after CEO firing
* Tensions between Russia and U.S. still in focus
* Nike shares fall after results, Tiffany rises
* Indexes: Dow up 0.09 pct, S&P off 0.18 pct, Nasdaq down
(Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 21 U.S. stocks were little
changed on Friday, as investors exercised caution heading into
the weekend and early gains that pushed the S&P 500 to a record
The S&P 500 lost momentum after hitting an all-time intraday
high of 1,883.97, with biotechs among the primary decliners.
Biogen Idec Inc, down 8 percent to $319.14, and Gilead
Sciences Inc, down 3.7 percent to $72.74, were the
biggest drags on the S&P 500. The Nasdaq biotech index
fell 3.5 percent.
The Dow and S&P 500 are still on track for their best weekly
performance since mid-February.
"We are hitting our heads at the closing highs around the
1875 area. This is the area where you would find some resistance
and that seems to be exactly what happened," said Ken Polcari,
Director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New
"We hit resistance and didn't get through. They are just
taking money off the table going into the weekend."
Investors continued to monitor geopolitical issues after
President Vladimir Putin signed laws completing Russia's
annexation of Crimea while Russia's MICEX stock index
fell 1 percent after a U.S. decision to slap sanctions on
Putin's inner circle.
Nike Inc fell 4 percent to $76.10 as the biggest
drag on the Dow after it said late Thursday that growing
pressures from weak emerging market currencies would take a toll
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.04 points or
0.09 percent, to 16,346.09, the S&P 500 lost 3.41 points
or 0.18 percent, to 1,868.6 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 37.614 points or 0.87 percent, to 4,281.671.
For the week, the Dow is up 1.8 percent, the S&P is up 1.6
percent and the Nasdaq is up 0.9 percent.
First Solar continued its recent meteoric rise,
climbing 4.1 percent on Friday, its sixth straight daily
increase. The stock has jumped 38 percent over that period.
Symantec Corp shares weighed on the Nasdaq,
tumbling 12.7 percent to $18.25 a day after it fired Chief
Executive Steve Bennett, the second time it has sacked its top
executive in less than two years.
Despite recent market strength, trading volume has been
anemic on positive market days, suggesting limited conviction
behind the move. However, volume is expected to surge on Friday
as options expire alongside multiple index rebalances. Credit
Suisse estimates $14 billion in gross trading from the S&P 500
index rebalance, with another $6 billion from rebalancing in
In earnings news, Tiffany & Co reported adjusted
fourth-quarter earnings and gave a profit outlook that were
below estimates. However, shares rose 1 percent to
Darden Restaurants Inc reported results largely in
line with expectations and affirmed its plan to divest its Red
Lobster business. Shares rose 2.6 percent to $50.56.
The U.S. Federal Reserve late Thursday said big U.S. banks
have enough capital buffers to withstand a drastic economic
downturn. The central bank said 29 of 30 major banks met the
minimum hurdle in its annual health check.
The only bank to fall under the 5 percent requirement for
top-tier capital was Zion Bancorp, which said it would
resubmit a capital plan to the Fed. Shares of Zion fell 5.2
percent to $31.27.
(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)