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Blue chips close lower

<font face="verdana" size="2">Investors pocketed profits in choppy trading Friday, snapping a seven-week winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average.</font></p>
/ Source: The Associated Press

Investors pocketed profits in choppy trading Friday, snapping a seven-week winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average.

Although the Nasdaq composite index closed marginally higher for the day, it was down for the week after six straight weeks of advances. The Standard & Poor’s 500, though down for the day, ended narrowly higher for a ninth consecutive week.

Strong results from Microsoft Corp. gave the market a boost early in the session, but shares drifted lower throughout the day. After so many weeks of gains, there was growing concern about valuations, and investors seemed intent on locking in profits. Most analysts remain upbeat about the market over the long term, however.

“In weeks like this you have to take a holistic view of the market, and not get too shook up about one stock being down a couple percent on what should be perceived as a good earnings announcement,” said John C. Forelli, portfolio manager for Independence Investment LLC in Boston.

The Dow closed down 54.89, or 0.5 percent, at 10,568.29, for a weekly loss of 0.3 percent.

The Nasdaq closed up 4.86, or 0.2 percent, at 2,123.87, but was down 0.8 percent for the week.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed down 2.39, or 0.2 percent, at 1,141.55, but logged a 0.1 percent gain for the week.

Wall Street is about halfway through a highly anticipated earnings season, and more than 100 companies in the S&P are expected to report results next week.

Overall, profits are expected to be 20 percent higher than last year, but many of these gains may already be reflected in stock prices, analysts say. Despite that, the news has been generally good, said Susan L. Malley, chief investment officer for Malley Associates Capital Management.

“There are places in the market where things are overvalued but there are still places where they’re not, and we’re still finding things to buy,” Malley said. “I’m not concerned about this modest pullback. ... If we didn’t get a little bit of a rest like this, I’d be more concerned.”

Malley said her firm has favored basic materials, which stands to benefit with rising demand from China, as well as energy and industrials, two sectors that typically do well when the economy is accelerating.

“We still think tech will do well, though,” she added. “We still have a chunk in tech and a chunk in finance.”

Tech bellwether Microsoft Corp. closed up 47 cents at $28.48 after several brokerage firms issued positive comments about its quarterly results, released late Thursday. The software titan’s earnings beat expectations as stronger demand for personal computers helped boost sales, and the company raised its forecast for the year.

AT&T Corp. closed down 70 cents at $19.70 after Lehman Brothers cut its rating. The telephone service provider beat analysts’ forecasts in earnings released Thursday, but its revenues were down amid long distance price wars, competition from cell phones and weak business demand.

Eastman Kodak Co. lost $1.07 to $29.88 after gaining 13 percent Thursday on high hopes for its restructuring plan. Kodak, which beat expectations for the quarter, is shifting its focus from traditional film to the digital photography market, and plans to cut up to 15,000 jobs this year.

Shares of Regions Financial Corp. and Union Planters Corp. rose sharply after the banks announced plans to merge. Regions closed up $2.00 at $39.75, while Union Planters gained $1.31 to $32.67.

McKesson Corp. closed down $2.18 at $29.30 after reporting earnings that missed analysts’ estimates. The health care supply management company said drug price changes hurt profits in its pharmacy outsourcing business.

Advancers outnumbered decliners about 7 to 6 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was moderate, with 1.54 billion shares traded, compared with 1.70 billion shares Thursday.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, closed up 4.41, or 0.8 percent, at 596.14.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average finished 0.6 percent higher Friday. France’s CAC-40 closed down 0.1 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 finished down 0.4 percent and Germany’s DAX index gained 0.3 percent.