The large-cap S&P 50 Index settled down 0.3% at 2,348.69, its third drop of the week. Still, the index held on for a weekly gain of 0.9%, rebounding from multi-month lows before the Easter long weekend.
Seven of 11 sectors finished in the red, with telecommunications services shouldering the biggest decline. Shares in the sector fell 1.6% on Friday.
Financials stocks ended 0.9% lower. Healthcare finished down 0.5%.Real estate and consumer stocks rounded out the losers for the day.
Energy shares pared losses to finish 0.4% lower as U.S. oil prices fell below $50 a barrel for the first time in over three weeks. Crude prices settled at $49.54 a barrel in New York.
Utilities rose 0.5%, a sign investors were focused on defensive plays.
Friday’s decline was accompanied by a burst in volatility, as investors weighed geopolitical risks and mixed earnings. The CBOE VIX, Wall Street’s preferred barometer of investor fear, rose more than 3%.
Over the weekend, investors will be monitoring the first round of French elections, where four candidates are vying for the presidency. Every poll for the past month has shown independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and National Front leader Marine Le Pen taking the top two spots in Sunday’s election. However, when margins of error are factored, each of the four main candidates has a chance to move on to the second-round run-off vote scheduled for May 7.
To avert a run-off election, one of the candidates must secure a majority vote on Sunday.
S&P 500 Index