Another Drop for the Dow

Blue chips slip again, and the Nasdaq is weaker, too.
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Updated from 4:17 p.m. EST

Stocks slipped again Friday, and this time the tech sector wasn't able to escape the weakness.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 38.54 points, or 0.3%, to 12,647.48. The

S&P 500

was off 5.19 points, or 0.36%, to 1451.19, and the

Nasdaq Composite

lost 9.84 points, or 0.39%, to 2515.10.

The past two days had already been rough ones for the old economy, but tech shares had been using small pockets of strength to eke out gains. On Thursday, the Dow lost 52.39 points, or 0.41%, to 12,686.02, following weakness in

GM

(GM) - Get Report

and

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

.

The S&P 500 shed 1.25 points, or 0.09%, to 1456.38, while the Nasdaq Composite tacked on 6.52 points, or 0.26%, to 2524.94.

"The bulls may be a little tired after dragging the Nasdaq to new

multiyear highs, but they remain the dominant force in the market," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist with CyberTrader. "

There has been no economic news to spur the bulls, so remain vigilant for buying opportunities."

For the holiday-shortened week, the Nasdaq gained 19 points, or 0.8%. The Dow lost 120 points, or 0.9%, and the S&P 500 finished 0.3% lower.

"The big picture is that we've gone eight months without a correction," said Larry Wachtel, senior market analyst with Wachovia Securities. "Most of the damage has been done on the Dow, but we've held up fine. We're still making all-time highs. The market gets overbought from time to time, and we need to take a breather."

Roughly 2.61 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

. Decliners matched advancers. Volume on the Nasdaq reached nearly 2.05 billion shares, with losers outpacing winners by an 8-to-7 margin.

Weighing on sentiment has been the recent rise in crude oil prices. The benchmark April contract rose 19 cents to close at $61.14 a barrel. Since the new front-month contract was set on Wednesday, crude prices have jumped 3.9%.

Elsewhere, gold futures topped $690 an ounce before finishing up $3.70 at $686.70 an ounce. Silver rose 34 cents to $14.59 an ounce.

In the absence of any economic data, Treasuries took their cue from a speech by Dallas

Federal Reserve

President Richard Fisher, who said that inflation "may be turning the corner." The 10-year note was gaining 13/32 in price to yield 4.68% and the 30-year bond was up 23/32, yielding 4.78%.

Among equities,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

shares slipped on word that a court has ordered the software giant to pay $1.52 billion to

Alcatel-Lucent

(ALU)

for patent infringement. The stock ended down 1.7% to $28.90.

In earnings, home improvement retailer

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

rose 3.9% after posting fourth-quarter results that topped expectations. Lowe's provided guidance for the first quarter and 2007 that was in line with expectations. The stock was up $1.30 to $34.93.

Elsewhere, radio station operator

Clear Channel

(CCU) - Get Report

also beat Wall Street's estimates. Shares finished higher by 2 cents, or 0.1%, to $36.47.

On the research front,

Sony

(SNE) - Get Report

was upgraded to buy from sell at Merrill Lynch, and

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

was lifted to overweight from equal-weight at Morgan Stanley. Still, Sony was off 0.4% to $52.27, and Coke dipped 0.1% and closed at $47.26.

Stocks were mostly higher in Europe and in Asia. London's FTSE 100 was higher by 0.3% to 6401, and Frankfurt's Xetra DAX was 0.3% stronger at 6992. Tokyo's Nikkei added 0.4% at 18,188, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slipped 0.5% to 20,711.