NEW YORK, March 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks continued to lose ground in choppy trading Friday, as investors grew a little bit restless ahead of Sunday's referendum in Ukraine's autonomous republic of Crimea.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased 43.22 points, or 0. 27 percent, to 16,065.67. The S&P 500 shed 5.21 points, or 0.28 percent, to 1,841.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 15.02 points, or 0.35 percent, to 4,245.40.
After dropping in six of the last seven trading days, the tech- rich Nasdaq snapped a five-week winning streak, down 2.1 percent in the week, not seen since April 2013.
While both the blue-chip Dow and the broader S&P 500 notched the worst week in seven weeks, falling 2.4 percent and 2.0 percent for the week, respectively.
The market opened slightly lower following a broad decline in global stocks outside the United States, amid growing worries over the situation in Ukraine, which had also weighed on Wall Street and pulled back the broader S&P 500 this week from last week's record runs.
After a meeting of six hours in London between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, they made little headway toward easing the tension as Crimea is heading to the referendum on whether to leave Ukraine and join Russia on Sunday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference after the meeting that Russia "will respect the will of the Crimean peoples" and there's "no common vision" on resolving the crisis.
The U.S. stocks staged a seesaw trading session before ending lower, as traders divided on whether it is fear or panic that dragged on the market, waiting for more evidence to shed some light on it.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, jumped 9.86 percent to end at 17.82 Friday.
Moreover, investors are also looking to the upcoming two-day Federal Open Market Committee next week, the policy-setting arm of the U.S. Federal Reserve whose Chair Janet Yellen is slated to hold a press conference for the first time as the Fed's chief shortly following the meeting Wednesday.
On the economic front, the U.S. Producer Price Index for final demand unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said Friday. The decline followed advances of 0.2 percent in January and 0.1 percent in December, showing a lack of inflationary pressure in the United States.
Meanwhile, the preliminary reading of the U.S. consumer sentiment slipped to 79.9 in March from 81.6 the prior month, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's survey released Friday, trailing market expectations.
In other markets, the U.S. dollar retreated against most major currencies on Friday and it fell against the yen for five consecutive days on growing concerns over Ukraine.
In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3904 dollars from 1.3858 dollars in the previous session. The greenback bought 101. 28 Japanese yen, lower than 101.66 yen of the previous session.
Oil prices rose as the International Energy Agency lifted its 2014 global crude demand forecast. And the uncertainty of Ukraine also supported crude prices.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery moved up 69 cents to settle at 98.89 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for April delivery gained 1.18 dollars to close at 108.57 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures rose for the fifth session in a row on a weak dollar, ending the week with a gain of more than 3 percent.
The most active gold contract for April delivery rose 6.6 dollars, or 0.48 percent, to settle at 1,379 dollars per ounce.