Investors had their eye on several corporate deals and new economic data on consumer spending and inflation. Energy stocks were down the most as the price of crude oil headed lower. Real estate companies led the gainers.
The S&P 500 index closed down 5.34 points, or 0.2%, at 2,362.72, with financial and telecom stocks weighing on the index. The Nasdaq Composite Index pared gains to finish flat at 5,911.74. In February, the Dow closed at an all-time high for a record-setting 12 days straight.
Despite the rally in stocks, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 11.54) rose 0.1 point, or 1.1%.
A strong quarter for United States markets ended on a weak note. The Russell 2000 ended the quarter with a gain of 2.1 per cent, its fourth quarter of growth in a row. Meanwhile, an inflation gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve increased 2.1 percent in February compared to a year ago, a five-year high.
DASHED EXPECTATIONS: NantHealth slumped 5.7 per cent after the health care information technology company reported disappointing fourth-quarter revenue.
The Dow is up 900.62 points, or 4.6 percent. The S&P 500 etched a 0.1% gain - also a fifth straight advance. As a result, the savings rate climbed to 5.6% from 5.4% the previous month.
Malaysia says Kim Jong Nam's body released to North Korea
In tit-for-tat moves, the two countries first withdrew their ambassadors, then banned each other's citizens from leaving its soil. Both women say they believed they were taking part in a prank TV show, a claim vehemently denied by Malaysian police.
June gold which is now the most-active contract, fell $8.80, or 0.7%, to settle at $1,248 an ounce. Antitrust regulators in Europe wanted DuPont to make the sale as part of its combination with competitor Dow Chemical.
On Nasdaq, CytoSorbents Corporation (NASDAQ:CTSO) was friendless, tumbling 95 cents to US$4.50 after it announced it would be raising US$10mln by issuing shares at US$4.50 a pop.
"The core PCE price index slipped from 0.3% to 0.2% month-on-month, while personal spending and income fell to 0.1% and 0.4% respectively". The next one to gain significantly is S&P 500 that has the potential to close around 5.8 percent higher on a year-over-year basis. India's Sensex gave up 0.2 percent, while Taiwan and New Zealand rose.
Bond prices edged higher. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.41 percent from 2.42 percent late Thursday.
On other economic news, in the week ending March 25, the advanced figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 258,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 261,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday. May Brent crude on London's ICE Futures exchange rose 54 cents, or 1%, to $52.96, with the contract set to expire at Friday's settlement. The greenback rose as Fed speakers suggested rates may need to rise faster than the market now anticipates, while the euro weakened as ECB officials hinted the bank would stick with its loose monetary policy. The dollar fell to 111.49 yen from 111.60 yen.
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