Stocks end mixed as Ukraine tensions fester

Trader Anthony Riccio, left, works on the floor

Trader Anthony Riccio, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, March 7, 2014. Stocks wavered between small gains and losses Friday before ending mixed after the government reported a pickup in hiring last month as well as a slight increase in the unemployment rate as more people started looking for work. (Credit: AP / Richard Drew)

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One positive report on the economy was not enough to make investors more confident.

The stock market ended mixed Friday after a day of muddled trading. Among the three main U.S. stock indexes, one edged higher, one closed little changed and the other closed lower.

Investors focused on the tensions in Ukraine, where the region of Crimea was preparing for a referendum on whether to split away and become part of Russia.

It was enough of a reason to sell into the weekend and to offset optimism over a pickup in hiring by U.S. employers last month.

The Labor Department said companies created 175,000 jobs last month, easily topping economists' forecasts. While encouraging, investors didn't see the February report as part of a broader trend.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed roughly flat, up 0.05 percent to 1,878.04. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30.83 points to 16,452.72, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.37 percent, to 4,336.22.

On the whole, the overall tone of the market was slightly negative. Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

-- AP

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