The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

March 15, 2014

U.S. stocks lower in afternoon trading

NORMAN — The stock market edged lower Friday afternoon as investors remained focused on tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine. Many bought utilities in a bid for lower-risk stocks.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped four points, or 0.02 percent, to 1,842 as of 3:07 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,076. The Nasdaq composite shed 10 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,249.

Traders were monitoring discussions Friday between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. A referendum will be held Sunday in the Ukraine region of Crimea, where residents will vote on whether to split off from the rest of the country to join Russia. Lavrov told reporters that Russia has no plans to invade southeastern Ukraine. If Crimea secedes, the U.S. and European Union plan to slap sanctions as early as Monday on Russian officials and businesses accused of escalating the crisis and undermining Ukraine’s new government.

Jim Russell, senior equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said the market’s expectations and pricing have begun to reflect the assumption that Crimea will end up with Russia.

“We think the markets are going to trade very nervously, probably with a downward bias,” he said.

Six of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index rose, led by utilities. Technology, health care, financials and industrials fell.

Liberty Media rose $9.66, or 7.7 percent, to $136.80. The company, which is controlled by billionaire John Malone, said late Thursday that it would drop its bid to buy the rest of the satellite radio provider Sirius XM.

Keurig jumped $7.05, or nearly 7 percent, to $113.21 after Starbucks said Friday that it has agreed to give up its right to be the only provider of premium coffee for Keurig’s coffee brewing machines. That opens the door for Keurig to offer other high-quality coffee brands in single-serving packages.

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