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Stocks flat amid rising Syria tensions

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. Nonfarm payrolls are the last major piece of economic data the Federal Reserve will get to see before it decides whether to pull back on its massive bond-buying program. (Sept. 5, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

The stock market ended flat Friday as traders hoped for more economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve and worried about escalating U.S.-Syria tensions.

While stocks ended close to where they began, their prices were volatile throughout the day. Stocks opened slightly higher but soon fell after Russian media reported that naval ships were en route to Syria, raising worries of a wider conflict and sending the Dow Jones industrial average down as much as 148 points in the first half-hour of trading. The Dow rose as high as 15,009 and dropped as low as 14,789.

"Clearly, [Russia] made the market nervous," said Dean Junkans, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank, which has $170 billion in assets under management.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up .01 percent to 1,655.17. The Dow ended down 14.98 points at 14,922.50. The Nasdaq composite rose .03 percent to 3,660.01.

Traders were rattled by conflicting forces. A mediocre August jobs report suggested that U.S. economic growth was slowing, while providing a reason for the Fed to keep up its stimulus program. The geopolitical risks of Syria added to the uncertainty Friday.

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