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Stocks end week on mixed note after 3-day slide

The rally driving stocks to record highs paused this week as investors tried to figure out where things are heading.

The rally driving stocks to record highs paused this week as investors tried to figure out where things are heading.

Stocks closed mixed Friday and posted a second weekly loss in a row. Indexes had reached record highs as recently as Monday, but then declined.

Investors may be nervous that stocks are overpriced. They may be worried about conflict with Iran or the debate over federal spending. Some are worried that the Federal Reserve will decide next week to reduce its economic stimulus, which has boosted stock prices.

"It's a hiatus," said Frank Fantozzi, CEO of money-management firm Planned Financial Services. "I really think there's nothing economically wrong."

Fantozzi noted that other bull markets had run for seven or eight years and peaked with higher prices compared with profits than what is being seen now.

Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 15,755.36. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.18 points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,775.32. The Nasdaq composite rose 2.57 points, or 0.06 percent, to 4,000.98.

All three fell for the week despite strong reports on employment, housing and retail spending. Investors have been worried that the stronger the Fed thinks the economy is, the more likely it is to stop buying $85 billion in bonds each month.

The purchases have been aimed at keeping interest rates low, which makes it cheaper to borrow. That has sent investors into stocks as they seek higher returns. The big indexes are up 20 percent or more this year.

The Fed's policy-making committee meets next week and will announce any decisions Wednesday.

Scott L. Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, believes the Fed will telegraph its intentions well in advance. The fact that it hasn't yet indicated an easing suggests it won't act until the spring, Wren said, adding that he also thinks the Fed could reduce its stimulus very slowly, easing the pain for financial markets.

"The Fed wants to err on the side of caution, and not do anything too crazy," he said.

Half the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 rose Friday, led by consumer discretionary stocks. Declining were energy and technology stocks.

Anadarko Petroleum fell $5.37, or 6 percent, to $78.30 Friday after a federal bankruptcy judge said the company might be liable for between $5 billion and more than $14 billion in a legal battle over the spin-off of a paint-materials company. The ruling is not yet final.

Software maker Adobe Systems jumped almost 13 percent after subscription-based revenue rose. Adobe was up $6.90, to $60.89.

Video-game maker Electronic Arts rose $1.25, or 6 percent, to $22.22 after early reports showed strong sales of new video game consoles from Sony and Microsoft.