NEW YORK, Fed. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks lost steam in late session to close lower Friday, as existing-home sales came out a little disappointing.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 29.93 points, or 0.19 percent, to 16,103.30. The S&P 500 rose 3.53 points, or 0.19 percent, to 1,836.25. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged down 4.13 points, or 0.10 percent, to 4,263.41.
Wall Street wavered between gains and losses before ending at near session lows, as investors seemed to be inclined to take a breather after the S&P 500 had been rebounding closer to its all- time high set in mid-January.
For the week, the Nasdaq logged a three-week winning streak, up 0.5 percent, while both the Dow and the S&P 500 shed for the first time in three weeks, down 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent respectively.
U.S. existing-home sales dropped in January to the lowest in a year and a half, but the ongoing inventory shortages continued to lift prices in much of the country, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co- ops, dipped 5.1 percent from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in January, short of market consensus.
Adding to the negative sentiment, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said Friday that the U.S. economy is growing stronger despite recent weak data, anticipating the Fed to continue winding down its massive bond-buying program.
The U.S. central bank officials generally agreed to continue trimming stimulus, with a few participants eyeing to raise the federal funds rate relatively soon, said the minutes of the Fed's January policy meeting.
In corporate news, Hewlett-Packard Co. shares dropped 1.32 percent to 29.79 U.S. dollars apiece, though the computer giant reported the first-quarter earnings that beat market estimates.
Groupon Inc. shares slumped 21.88 percent to 8.03 dollars apiece, after the online daily deals company reported a fourth- quarter loss and disappointing first-quarter forecast.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, decreased 0.74 percent to 14.68.
In other markets, oil prices dropped Friday on weak U.S. existing-home sales. Light, sweet crude for March delivery moved down 55 cents to settle at 102.2 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for April delivery lost 45 cents to close at 109.85 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose Friday to score a third weekly gain in a row, with the most active gold contract for April delivery going up 6.7 U.S. dollars to settle at 1,323.6 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar edged up against most major currencies Friday but it weakened against the euro on downbeat U.S. housing data.
In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3744 U.S. dollars from 1.3719 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound decreased to 1.6645 U.S. dollars from 1.6658 dollars.