Nov. 9, 2012 at 10:02 AM ET
Stocks fell at the open on Friday, putting the S&P on track for a third straight decline and its worst weekly retreat in five months, as the euro zone crisis extended its reach and investors fretted over a looming U.S. "fiscal cliff."
In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 64.66 points, or 0.50 percent, to 12,746.66. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 4.11 points, or 0.30 percent, to 1,373.40. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 5.42 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,890.16.
That's a more moderate decline than those over the previous two days, which erased 434 points from the average.
Investors have been worried that Washington won't act in time to avoid damaging spending cuts and tax increases by the end of the year. President Barack Obama addresses the issue Friday afternoon from the White House.
J.C. Penney reported a larger loss than analysts expected. Its stock fell 8 percent.
Growth in Germany, Europe's largest economy, is likely to weaken in the next two quarters as firms postpone investments while France's central bank said it expected the euro zone's second-largest economy to slip into recession as 2012 ends.