A surge in oil prices and the threat of a government shutdown weighed on stocks Friday.
Investors kept one eye on Washington, where Republicans and Democrats were in the final day of talks to reach a budget agreement. Benchmark crude oil, meanwhile, jumped $2.49 to settle at $112.79 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the highest price since Sept. 22, 2008.
Over the past two months, most stocks have fallen following large jumps in oil prices as investors worried that higher transportation costs would cut into company margins and consumer spending.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 29.44 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 12,380.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 5.34, or 0.4 percent, to 1,328.17. The Nasdaq composite lost 15.72, or 0.6 percent, to 2,780.42.
Meanwhile, wholesale businesses boosted inventories for the 14th consecutive month but sold fewer cars, pieces of furniture and petroleum products in February. Sales at the wholesale level slipped 0.8 percent in February, the first setback since June 2010, the Commerce Department reported Friday.