Stocks Ended Lower on Europe Woes

U.S. stocks finished modestly lower on Friday, ending the worst week in two months, as the lack of a credible solution to Europe’s debt crisis kept investors away from risky assets. The Dow Industrials fell 25.61 points, or 0.23%, to trade at 11,231.94. The S&P 500 was off 3.12 points, or 0.27%, to 1,158.67. The Nasdaq Composite was down 18.57 points, or 0.75%, to end at 2,441.51.

Euro zone states may ditch plans to impose losses on private bondholders should countries need to restructure their debt under a new bailout fund due to launch in mid-2013, four EU officials told Reuters on Friday.

Standard & Poor’s downgraded Belgium’s credit rating to AA from AA-plus on Friday, saying funding and market risk pressures are raising the chances the country’s financial sector will need more support.

A federal judge has said credit ratings are not always protected opinion under the First Amendment, a defeat for credit rating agencies in a lawsuit brought by investors who lost money on mortgage-backed securities.

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) plans to continue its expansion in Brazil, a top executive said on Friday, as the U.S. oil giant tries to contain the political fallout of an oil spill off the South American nation’s coast.

Crude-oil futures ended a see-saw Friday higher, holding on to modest gains as U.S. equities lost steam and a rising dollar kept the pressure on. Crude oil for January delivery gained 60 cents, or 0.6%, to settle at $96.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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