Stocks hit by Ukraine; Visa falls as Russia sanctions could dent profit

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U.S. stocks declined on Friday, with equities sliding into the loss column for the week, as investors tracked escalating tension in Ukraine, with the geopolitical strife overshadowing upbeat results from Microsoft.

Ford Motor fell after the auto manufacturer reported earnings below expectations; declined after forecasting a loss in the current quarter; Starbucks gained after its full-year outlook topped estimates, and Microsoft rose after tallying a quarterly profit that beat estimates.

Ukrainian forces reportedly killed up to five pro-Moscow rebels as Russian troops resumed military drills along that nation’s border with Ukraine.

“While U.S. and European stocks yesterday responded to the news of Russian military exercises, that should not have been a surprise as they amassed tens of thousands of troops on the Russian side of the Ukrainian border weeks ago. The problem now though is the rhetoric and tension seems to be taking on a new level of height and concern,” emailed Peter Boockvar, chief market strategist at the Lindsey Group.

“If Russia plays hard ball and cuts off the supply of natural gas to Europe, prices would go up for consumers and hurt consumer spending, and make the price of doing business more expensive. If there is less discretionary spending and less economic growth in Europe, it would hurt the growth of our companies doing business in Europe,” said Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors.

Russian stocks were slammed, including software company Yandex, down 17 percent.

Read More S&P downgrades Russia, central bank hikes rates

President Barack Obama on Friday was expected to call European leaders to talk about sanctions, a day U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Russian economy would be targeted so long as tensions in Ukraine continued.

Name Price Change %Change
DJIA Dow Jones Industrial Average 16380.70
-120.95 -0.73%
S&P 500 S&P 500 Index 1866.40
-12.21 -0.65%
NASDAQ Nasdaq Composite Index 4089.23
-59.11 -1.42%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined as much as 160 points, and was lately off 128.13 points, or 0.8 percent, at 16,373.47, with Visa leading blue-chip losses that extended to 22 of its 30 components.

Visa, the world’s largest credit and debit card company, said U.S. sanctions on Russia were crimping its transaction volumes, and that revenue growth would slow more this quarter.

The S&P 500 shed 12.39 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,866.22, with consumer discretionary pacing sector declines and utilities the best performing of its 10 major industry groups.

The Nasdaq fell 54.11 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,094.22.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of investor uncertainty, spiked 10 percent to 14.67.

For every stock gaining, more than two fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 226 million shares traded as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern. Composite volume approached 1.2 billion.

The 10-year Treasury yield used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell 3 basis points to 2.655 percent and the dollar fell against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners.

Gold futures for June delivery climbed $11.40, or or 0.9 percent, to $1,302 an ounce; crude for June delivery fell $1.14, or 1.1 percent, to $100.80 a barrel.

Stocks offered little reaction after the Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index hit 84.1 in April, better than estimated.

Separately, financial data firm Markit’s gauge of the services sector showed expansion slowed in April from the prior month.

On Thursday, worries about Ukraine curbed broad market gains, with the Dow industrials finishing flat for the first time in 12 years.

Read More Was that it? Pros had hoped for more from pullback

—By CNBC’s Kate Gibson

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