NEW YORK – Stocks fell on Friday, led by losses in the Nasdaq after another drop in shares of Apple, and as the overhang of "fiscal cliff" negotiations kept buyers on the sidelines.
Apple slid 4.2 percent to $507.21 after UBS cut its price target on the stock to $700 from $780. The stock of the most valuable U.S. company has been hit hard in the last three months. On Friday, Apple's stock fell after a tepid reception for the iPhone 5 in China.
The S&P Information Technology Index lost 0.9 percent as Apple fell and Jabil Circuit Inc shed 5 percent to $17.61 after UBS cut its price target.
The possibility of a "fiscal cliff" deal not taking place until early 2013 is rising. The back-and-forth negotiations over the fiscal cliff in Washington have kept markets on hold in what would already be a quiet period for stocks.
"We're faced with uncertainty ... and that's going to continue now into January. It basically puts everybody on hold and (you) just have the markets kind of thrash around," said Larry Peruzzi, senior equity trader at Cabrera Capital Markets Inc in Boston.
President Barack Obama and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner held a "frank" meeting on Thursday at the White House to discuss how to avoid the tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in early in 2013.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 19.68 points, or 0.15 percent, to 13,151/04. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 3.79 points, or 0.27 percent, to 1,415.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 19.24 points, or 0.64 percent, to 2,972.97.
American Express Co shares fell 1.5 percent to $56.83 and ranked as the heaviest weight on the Dow.
The S&P 500 dropped 0.6 percent on Thursday after six straight positive sessions. Investors are concerned that going over the cliff could tip the economy back into recession. While a deal is expected to ultimately be reached, a drawn-out debate - like the one seen over 2011's debt ceiling - can erode confidence.
Still, expectations of an eventual agreement have helped the S&P 500 bounce back over the last month. On Wednesday, the index hit its highest intraday level since late October. For the year, the S&P has climbed 12.6 percent.
"It's quieter than it has been recently. I think it's the Friday before the holiday week and people are starting to go away, and absent some big news out of Washington, I think things will be quieter," said Jeff Meyerson, head of trading for Sunrise Securities in New York.
Best Buy Co Inc slid 14 percent to $12.13 after the electronics retailer agreed to extend the deadline for the company's founder to make a bid. Shares jumped as much as 19 percent on Thursday after initial reports of a bid this week from founder Richard Schulze.
Consumer prices fell in November for the first time in six months, indicating U.S. inflation pressures were muted. A separate report showed manufacturing grew at its swiftest pace in eight months in December.
Data out of China was encouraging, as Chinese manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in 14 months in December. The news was seen as helping U.S. materials companies, including U.S. Steel , which rose 6 percent to $23.66.
(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jan Paschal)