Closing Bell: Stocks End Disappointing Week Down 4 Days Out of 5

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Richard Drew/AP

Stocks headed marginally lower Friday, capping a lackluster week in which disappointing earnings and concern about the Federal Reserve's plan to taper its stimulus left investors feeling wary.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) lost 72 points to close at 15,425, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) slipped 6 points to 1,691 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) edged down 9 points to 3,660. The Dow's 1.5 percent loss for the week marked its first weekly decline since June.

Trading was light -- typical for a Friday in late summer -- and there was little to stir investors into action. Most of the S&P 500 have already reported quarterly earnings and newly released economic data were limited to a lone report on wholesale inventories, a barometer little watched by many investors.

Nevertheless, the report showed wholesalers also cut their stockpiles for a third straight month -- an indication that they're uncertain about future demand -- even as sales rose.

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Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, reiterated late Thursday that the central bank will probably begin cutting back on its massive bond-buying stimulus next month, as long as economic data continues to improve. Many investors are concerned that economic growth will stall without the Fed's help.

The Postal Service reported it lost $740 million in the last three months and said that without help from Congress, its financial woes will only worsen. The service, which is under congressional control, wants to end most Saturday and door-to-door mail delivery. It also is seeking to reduce contributions to future retiree health benefits.

J.C. Penney (JCP) was one of the few companies making news. Shares fell almost 6 percent as the company's board bickered with its largest shareholder, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, over how quickly the company should replace its interim CEO. The stock ended down 79 cents to $12.87.

Other Stocks in the News:

  • BlackBerry (BBRY) shares jumped after Reuters reported that the company may be growing more amenable to going private. The stock rose 5.8 percent, to $9.77.

  • (PCLN) rose 3.9 percent a day after the travel website announced earnings that trumped analyst expectations. The stock closed at $969.89. Should the stock go above $1,000, it would be the first in the S&P 500 to do so.

  • The London trader at the center of JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) $6 billion trading loss is unlikely to face federal charges. The Wall Street Journal reported that Bruno Iksil, the so-called "London Whale," who placed many of the large bets that led to the loss, isn't a target of the Justice Department or the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • UBS (UBS) agreed to pay $120 million to settle a lawsuit by investors who charge the bank misled them about the financial condition of Lehman Brothers Holdings. The stock dipped by 9 cents to $20.49.

  • Noodles & Co. (NDLS), the restaurant chain, plummeted after it predicted that sales growth at established restaurants would slow down. The stock plunged 10.5 percent, down $4.96 to $42.31.

  • Shares of Dendreon (DNDN) tumbled 26 percent to $3.39 -- their lowest price in four years -- after the company again lowered its expectations for sales of its prostate cancer therapy Provenge.

  • Jack in the Box (JACK) fell 3.3 percent to $40.48 after the fast-food company reported quarterly revenue that fell short of expectations and lowered its forecast for a key sales figure.

What to Watch Monday:

  • The Treasury Department releases federal budget data for July at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

- Compiled from staff and wire reports.