The Dow Jones Industrial Average drifted lower on Friday, as investors turned their attention to a crucial French election that many consider to be a bellwether of anti-EU sentiment in the region.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 20,547.76. The benchmark was down as much as 0.4% earlier.
Eighteen Dow 30 companies finished in the red, with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: V) leading the decline. The telecom blue-chip fell 2.4% in the wake of a disappointing earnings report earlier in the week.
Shares of General Electric Co (NYSE: GE) fell 2.4%. IBM Corp (NYSE: IBM) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) closed down 1.2% apiece.
On the opposite side of the ledger, Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) advanced 1.4%. United Technologies Corp (NYSE: UTX) and The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) each rose 0.9%.
Wall Street faced broad declines on Friday, with the large-cap S&P 500 Index closing own 0.3% at 2,348.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index pared losses to finish down 0.1% at 5,910.52.
Anxiety over France’s upcoming election is rising after a terrorist shooting on the Champs-Elysees forced an early end to the campaign. Latest polls show a tight-nit race between independent Emmanuel Macron and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen. Both candidates are expected to narrowly outperform Republican Francois Fillon and Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon to advance to the second-round run-off in two weeks’ time.
Markets are especially concerned about Le Pen, who has vowed to close France’s borders and exit the euro once elected. Investors can expect a volatile start to Monday trading should the far-right populist leader advance past the first round.
France’s presidential election will be held this Sunday, with preliminary results scheduled to be released later in the evening.