Stocks Ended Mixed Year, Only the Dow Up for 2011

U.S. stocks declined Friday, as investors closed the books on a volatile year largely driven by Europe’s uncertain efforts to stem its debt crisis. The Dow industrials lost 69.48 points, or 0.57%, to close Friday’s session at 12,217.56, leaving it up 5.5% for 2011, its second straight annual advance. The S&P 500 shed 5.42 points, or 0.43%, to end the day at 1,257.60, just slightly below its 2010 closing level of 1,257.64. The Nasdaq Composite fell 8.59 points, or 0.33%, to 2,605.15, leaving it down 1.8% from its 2010 closing level.

After a customer backlash, Verizon Wireless on Friday dropped a plan to start charging $2 for every payment subscribers make over the phone or online with their credit or debit cards. In a statement on its website Friday, the company said “customer feedback” prompted the decision to drop the “convenience fee” it wanted to introduce on Jan. 15.

The price of oil soared in 2011 and will finish about 19 percent higher, on average, after a volatile year dominated by concerns about global supplies. Benchmark crude rose by 8 cents to $99.73 per barrel in afternoon trading on Friday, the final trading day of the year.

Walgreen CEO Greg Wasson said Friday chances are probably “slim to none” that the drugstore operator will reach an agreement with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts before their current contract ends Saturday. General Motors Co. said on Friday that it is recalling more than 4,000 of its 2012 Chevrolet Sonic subcompact cars to check for missing brake pads.

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