* Symantec tumbles after CEO's firing
* Tensions between Russia and U.S. still in focus
* Nike shares fall after results
* Dow off 0.2 pct; S&P 500 down 0.3 pct; Nasdaq off 1 pct
(Updates to close)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 21 U.S. stocks slipped on
Friday, as investors booked profits in momentum names heading
into the weekend, wiping out early gains that had pushed the
S&P 500 to an intraday record high.
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 8.2 percent at $318.53, and
Gilead Sciences Inc, down 4.6 percent at $72.07, were
the two biggest drags on the S&P 500. The Nasdaq biotech index
fell 4.4 percent.
U.S. lawmakers have asked Gilead to explain the $84,000
price tag of its new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which is
encountering resistance from health insurers and state Medicaid
"They've been selling them - the techs in particular, as
well as the biotechs, even more particular there. Obviously,
it's a momentum sector, and all the momentum names are getting
smacked around," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at
Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
"When you see the momentum names coming out like they are
now, that is telling you they are lightening up here."
Investors continued to monitor geopolitical issues after
President Vladimir Putin signed laws completing Russia's
annexation of Crimea. Russia's MICEX stock index fell 1
percent after a U.S. decision to slap sanctions on Putin's inner
Nike Inc fell 5.1 percent to $75.21 and was the
heaviest weight on the Dow after the maker of sports shoes and
apparel said late Thursday that growing pressures from weak
emerging market currencies would take a toll on profit.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.28 points or
0.17 percent, to 16,302.77. The S&P 500 slipped 5.49
points or 0.29 percent, to 1,866.52. The Nasdaq Composite
dropped 42.498 points or 0.98 percent, to close at
For the week, the Dow rose 1.5 percent, the S&P 500 gained
1.4 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.7 percent.
First Solar continued its recent meteoric rise,
climbing 4.1 percent to $73.37 on Friday, its sixth straight
daily increase. The stock has jumped 38 percent over that
Symantec Corp tumbled 12.9 percent to $18.20 a day
after it fired Chief Executive Officer Steve Bennett, the second
time it has sacked its top executive in less than two years,
raising concerns about its turnaround efforts.
Despite the market's recent strength, trading volume has
been anemic on positive market days, suggesting limited
conviction behind the move. However, volume received a boost on
Friday as options expired alongside multiple index rebalances.
Credit Suisse expected $14 billion in gross trading from the S&P
500 index rebalance, with another $6 billion from rebalancing in
Volume of about 9.6 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges,
well above the 6.69 billion average so far this month, according
to data from BATS Global Markets.
In earnings news, Tiffany & Co reported adjusted
fourth-quarter earnings and gave a profit outlook that was below
estimates. Tiffany's stock fell 0.5 percent to
Darden Restaurants Inc reported results largely in
line with expectations and affirmed its plan to divest its Red
Lobster business. Darden's shares rose 2.8 percent to $50.66.
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 Zions Bancorp, which said it would
resubmit a capital plan to the Fed. Shares of Zion fell 5.3
percent to $31.24.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the New York
Stock Exchange by 1,776 to 1,257. The opposite trend prevailed
on the Nasdaq, where decliners beat advancers by 1,553 to 1,113.
(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Nick Zieminski and Jan Paschal)