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Stocks retreat after early advance sent S&P 500 to record

By Joseph Ciolli
Bloomberg News

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NEW YORK: Stocks fell Friday, led by biotechnology companies amid concern about government scrutiny of drug prices, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose to a record earlier on optimism about the economy.

Gilead Sciences Inc. slid 4.6 percent and Biogen Idec Inc. tumbled the most since 2008 as lawmakers questioned Gilead about its $84,000 hepatitis drug.

Symantec Corp. slumped 13 percent after firing its chief executive officer.

About 9.9 billion shares changed hands in the U.S., the most since June, amid a quarterly event known as “quadruple witching” when futures and options contracts on indexes and individual stocks expire.

“It’s a combination of it being witching day, plus the continuation of uncertainty on the geopolitical front,” said Chad Morganlander, a New Jersey-based fund manager at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. “That’s forced the traders to square their books going into the weekend. Days like this are typically volatile.”

The S&P 500 lost 0.3 percent to 1,866.40. The gauge climbed 1.4 percent this week and earlier in the day Friday rose above its previous intraday record reached March 7. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 28.35 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,302.70 after climbing as much as 125 points earlier.

Reports on housing, gross domestic product and durable goods are among the economic data due next week.

Nike slid 5.1 percent to $75.21 for its biggest slide since June 2012. The sporting goods company signaled that momentum may slow as the strong dollar hampers its performance abroad.


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