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Stocks are mostly lower as Ukraine tensions fester

  • Wall-Street-589

    Traders George Ettinger, left, and Robert Oswald work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange today.

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Wall-Street-590

    Glenn Kessler, left, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, March 7, 2014. Stocks were wavering between small gains and losses early Friday after the government reported a pickup in hiring last month as well as a slight increase in the unemployment rate as more people started looking for work. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    <ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wall-Street-589

Traders George Ettinger, left, and Robert Oswald work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange today.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

NEW YORK  — Stocks are drifting mostly lower in midday trading as tensions build in Ukraine, where the region of Crimea is preparing for a referendum on whether to split away and become part of Russia.

Those concerns offset an encouraging pickup in hiring by U.S. employers last month.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell a point to 1,875 as of noon Eastern time.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 27 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,450. The Nasdaq composite lost 20 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,332.

Biotechnology and health care stocks were among the biggest decliners.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.80 percent from 2.74 percent late Thursday. The yield had been as low as 2.60 percent earlier this week.

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