Stocks Slip on Ukraine-Russia Crisis Fears, Ahead of Crimea Vote

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Stocks declined on Friday, with the Nasdaq posting its first weekly drop in six, as concerns escalated about where the markets will go next week if Crimea votes to leave Ukraine and join Russia.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which fell 231 points on Thursday on fears of possible escalation in the Ukraine-Russia standoff over Crimea, closed down another 43 points.

The S&P 500 dropped 5 points and the Nasdaq lost 15.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in London on Friday, and were unable to alleviate the Ukraine crisis. Moscow said Kiev had lost control of the nation and the U.S. and the European Union said Russia would face sanctions if it does not back off from taking control of Crimea, where a referendum is scheduled for Sunday on whether to join Russia.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said producer prices unexpectedly fell last month, with the 0.1 percent decline in the producer-price index coming after a 0.2 percent climb in January. Also, a preliminary report from Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan showed consumer sentiment has dipped this month to 79.9 -- lower than the 82 estimate.

The dollar declined against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, while the 10-year Treasury yield used in determining mortgage rates and other consumer loans, held at 2.646 percent.

Crude-oil futures rose 69 cents, to $98.89 a barrel; gold futures climbed $6.60, to $1,379.00 an ounce.