Stocks Ended Lower, Posting Weekly Decline

U.S. stocks ended modestly lower on Friday, with all three major indexes posting a weekly decline, on two pieces of disappointing economic news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 43.22 points, or 0.27%, to 16,065.67, losing 2.4% over the week. The S&P 500 was down 5.21 points, or 0.28%, lower at 1,841.13, recording a 2% loss over the week. The Nasdaq Composite shed 15.02 points, or 0.35%, to 4,245.40 and the 2.1% decline over the week.

U.S. producer prices fell in February for the first time in three months in another sign that inflationary pressures remain well contained. The producer price index dipped 0.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said Friday. The price of goods rose 0.4% last month, but the cost of services fell 0.3%.

A gauge of consumer sentiment declined in March to hit the lowest level in four months, cut by weaker expectations for the economy, according to a Friday report. The gauge from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters fell to 79.9 this month from a final February level of 81.6, data show.

Gold rose to a six-month high on Friday. U.S. gold futures settled up $6.60 at $1,379 an ounce, with trading volume about 30 percent above its 30-day average, preliminary Reuters data showed.

Despite a disastrous start and relentless Republican opposition, President Barack Obama said Friday that enrollment in his signature health care program is high enough to make it stable for the millions who have signed up.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has sued 16 big banks that set a key global interest rate, accusing them of fraud and conspiring to keep the rate low to enrich themselves.

Three organizations that provide homeowner assistance filed a civil lawsuit against California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, alleging he diverted funds set aside to help borrowers under a 2012 national mortgage settlement to pay for state expenses.

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