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Stocks Fade on Ukraine Fears, but S&P 500 Closes at Record High

<p>Stocks rose on strong consumer sentiment and home sales numbers, but the rally faded in the afternoon on concerns about Russian action in Ukraine.</p><p></p>
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Stocks were mixed on Friday, with the S&P 500 closing at a record high, on strong consumer sentiment data, but rumors about possible Russian action in Ukraine had stocks pulling back late in the session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which earlier in the afternoon was in triple digits, ended unofficially 49 points higher and the S&P 500 rose 5 points to end at 1,859.45. But the Nasdaq closed 10 points in the red.

The market rally faded after reports that Ukraine's acting president claimed Russia sent troops to Crimea and seized Parliament. This followed unconfirmed reports from the BBC and AFP that Russian troops may have entered Crimea.

"That is something we're watching very carefully; it appears that Russia will take an active role in the Ukraine," said Jim Russell, senior equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management, who cited the potential for disruptions to the natural gas and "to some degree global oil output."

Earlier, stocks soared after a report that consumer sentiment rose marginally this month even as concerns about the extreme weather persisted, with the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final read coming in at 81.6, just above the 81.2 in the preliminary estimate and the January reading.

Also, the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales edged up 0.1 percent to 95.0 in January despite unusually harsh winter weather.

Markets appeared to dismiss a Commerce Department report saying the economy grew at a slower rate in the last quarter of 2013 than previously estimated.

The dollar declined against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used in determining mortgage rates and other consumer loans rose 3 basis points to 2.673 percent.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude-oil futures for April delivery rose 39 cents to $102.78 a barrel; gold futures shed $10.20, to $1,321.60 an ounce.