After Market: Jittery Investors Fear Putin Won't Take the Weekend Off

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Stocks ended Friday in positive territory, though they gave up most of the day's gains in the afternoon as investors grew scared of the upcoming weekend. This has been the pattern on Fridays ever since Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea last month: Early gains dissipate as the weekend draws near. A lot of investors have been taking money off the table, just in case something happens before the market reopens Monday.

AP/Pavel GolovkinRussian soldiers stand near a tank at a former Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, outside Simferopol, Crimea, on Thursday.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 59 points; it had been up more than 160. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 8 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 4 points. But the Nasdaq was still down about 3 percent for the week.

Microsoft (MSFT) rose 2 percent Friday and Cisco (CSCO) gained 1.5 percent, helping all three major averages. And Tesla rose 2.5 percent after federal regulators closed an investigation into fires in the electric carmaker's batteries.

But some of the other momentum plays are suddenly out of favor. Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Yelp (YELP) and Netflix (NFLX) continued to lose ground. Netflix has declined in 16 of the last 18 trading days.

Biotechs, too, continued to lose favor. The Nasdaq Biotech Index is now down 14 percent from the record high set about a month ago. Biogen (BIIB) lost another 5 percent, Gilead (GILD) and Regeneron (REGN) both lost 4 percent and Alnylam Pharmaceutical (ALNY) fell 5 percent.

Elsewhere, Blackberry (BBRY) lost 7 percent as quarterly sales declined. It's now down about 40 percent from a year ago, and there are growing doubts about the company's turnaround effort.

Red Hat (RHT) fell 7 percent. The open-source software company warns that earnings will fall short of Wall Street expectations.

The big California utility PG&E (PCG) fell 4 percent. The company expects criminal charges will be filed against it stemming from a 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people.

And Caesars Entertainment (CZR) fell 7.5 percent. It plans to sell new shares, which will dilute the value of existing shares.

Among the gainers, homebuilders Lennar (LEN), Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV) and Ryland Group (RYL) all gained more than 2 percent. And Restoration Hardware (RH) nailed it, jumping 13 percent on an upbeat earnings outlook.

What to Watch Monday:
  • The Institute For Supply Management - Chicago releases its March survey of purchasing managers at 9:45 a.m.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas releases its March survey of Texas manufacturers at 10:45 a.m.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks at the National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference in Chicago.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

7 Tax Tips for Investors
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After Market: Jittery Investors Fear Putin Won't Take the Weekend Off
The 1099 forms you received from brokerages and other financial institutions might not be the last ones they send. It's common for them to issue corrected versions a little later. Consider getting your tax return ready to go, then waiting until close to April 15 before submitting it. That way, you can incorporate any last-minute changes and avoid having to file an amended return.
Pay attention to when you sell any holding, because the capital gains tax rates differ for long-term and short-term holdings. Short-term capital gains are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, which could top 30 percent. Long-term gains (those held for more than a year) get preferential rates, which are zero percent for those in low-income brackets and 15 percent for most of us.
If you own underwater stocks, consider selling them for a loss. You can use those losses to offset gains from other sales, reducing your taxes owed. You can always buy back the asset later, if you still believe in it -- just be sure to wait for 31 days to pass, to observe the "wash sale rule."
If you're planning to sell one or more holdings that will give you a really big gain, submit an amended W-4 form to increase your withholding, or send the IRS an estimated tax payment. Underpaying your taxes significantly during the year can lead to a penalty at tax time. You may be protected by a "safe harbor" provision, though, which can save you from having to jump through those hoops.
If you're planning to buy shares of a mutual fund, determine when it will distribute its dividends. Many funds do so near the end of the year, and when that happens, the fund's share price will drop by the amount of the distribution -- which is taxable to shareholders. It's better to just wait until after that payout to buy in.
Mutual funds with high turnover ratios (reflecting a lot of buying and selling in a fund) have expenses for these trades. It's worth favoring funds with low turnover ratios, especially index funds and index-tracking ETFs, which simply hold onto the mix of securities in a given index, without a lot of trading activity. (Index funds generally outperform their higher-turnover counterparts, too.)
Boost the power of your Individual Retirement Accounts by making your annual contributions early in the year, giving the funds more time to grow. Over decades, it can make a significant difference.
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