Stocks end lower as Ukraine vote worries traders

Trader Kenneth Polcari works on the floor of Trader Kenneth Polcari works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, March 13, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Richard Drew

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Stock investors started the week worrying about China. They ended it waiting on Russia.

Investors spent much of Friday monitoring developments in Ukraine's region of Crimea, where residents vote Sunday on whether to secede to Russia. The United States and European Union have vowed to impose sanctions on Russia as early as Monday if Moscow moves to annex Crimea.

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The uncertainty mostly stalled major stock indexes, which moved between small gains and losses through much of the day. Many investors took a cautious approach, turning to lower-risk stocks like utilities.

All told, the Dow Jones industrial average slid 43.22 points to end at 16,065.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.28 percent to close at 1,841.13. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.35 percent, to 4,245.40. Even so, the S&P 500 index ended the week down less than 2 percent from a record high reached the previous Friday. And it remains just slightly in the red for the year.

"The market is still pretty close to all-time highs. I think that speaks volumes," said Karyn Cavanaugh, a senior market strategist with ING U.S. Investment Management. "The market hasn't been rattled severely by what's been going on this week." -- AP

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