NEW YORK, N.Y. – U.S. stocks closed out a difficult week on a modestly lower note Friday, as investors continued to monitor Britain’s frenzied debate on whether to leave the European Union. The debate took on a new level of concern after the killing of a member of parliament.
Technology stocks were among the biggest decliners. Apple fell as a patent dispute in China threatened to jeopardize futures sales of iPhones in the world’s second-largest economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 57.94 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 17,675.16. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 6.77 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,071.22 and the Nasdaq composite fell 44.58 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 4,800.34.
Anxiety over the British referendum coming up next Thursday continued to dominate trading. Stocks have fallen six out of the past seven trading days. This week the Dow and S&P 500 each lost 1 per cent while the Nasdaq gave up almost 2 per cent.
The campaigning in Britain became heated this week, and took an alarming turn when a well-regarded politician in favour of staying in the EU was killed. Polls have been tight or have shown, on occasion, a slight likelihood that Britain could leave the EU. Many have predicted that could harm the British economy.
Investors interpreted the assassination as something that could sway more voters to stay in the EU. U.K. and European stocks and the British pound rose against the euro and dollar. The pound rose to $1.4375 compared with $1.4205 the day before.
“This tragic event may have dampened the ‘leave’ campaign’s momentum somewhat,” said Daniel Vernazza, analyst at UniCredit bank. He noted the movement in the pound was the most significant indicator that investors believe this would be positive for the ‘remain’ campaign.
In other European trading, Germany’s DAX index rose 0.8 per cent, France’s CAC-40 rose 1 per cent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 index rose 1.2 per cent.
Technology giant Apple fell $2.22, or 2.3 per cent, to $95.33 after Chinese officials ruled that Apple infringed on a patent of a major competitor, which could cause iPhone sales to be suspended in the country.
Elizabeth Arden rose $4.57, or 49 per cent, to $13.88 after hair and makeup company Revlon said it would buy the company for $14 a share, or $419.3 million.
Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.77 to close at $47.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained $1.98 to close at $49.17 a barrel in London.
In other energy commodities, heating oil rose 6 cents to $1.48 a gallon, wholesale gasoline rose 4 cents to $1.51 a gallon and natural gas rose 4 cents to $2.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.
U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.61 per cent from 1.58 per cent a day earlier. In other currency trading, the dollar fell to 104.23 yen from 104.31 yen while the euro gained slightly to $1.1275 from $1.1236.
The price of gold slipped $3.60 to $1,294.80 an ounce, silver lost 20 cents to $17.41 an ounce and copper was little changed at $2.05 a pound.