NEW YORK - The Dow slipped while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 inched higher on Friday as warnings about Greece kept investors cautious before a long holiday weekend, with shares likely to drift lower into the close.
Volume was light ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend and the market had a defensive tilt, with slight gains in less economically sensitive sectors such as healthcare, utilities, consumer staples and telecom services offsetting weakness in materials and industrial shares.
Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders issued a new warning over Greece, saying it would be a "grave professional error" if central banks and companies were not preparing for a Greek exit from the euro zone.
French banks, which are among the lenders most exposed to Greece, have stepped up their efforts on contingency plans for the debt-laden country leaving the euro zone, sources familiar with the situation said.
"The market is kind of wallowing. It's been down most of the day," said Stephen Carl, principal and head of equity trading at The Williams Capital Group. "You may see a lack of demand and things fall off a little, but it'll be on light volume."
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 18.92 points, or 0.15 percent, at 12,510.83. But the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 1.98 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,322.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> edged up 0.27 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to 2,839.65.
Despite the weak start to Friday's session, the S&P 500 was on track to post its best weekly gain in more than two months. Trading has been choppy all week, with stocks usually opening lower or flat, only to add gains heading into the close.
Despite the S&P 500's 5.3 percent drop since the end of April, stocks have held up relatively well as bear markets rage in Brazil, Russia, peripheral Europe, and many core European equity markets have give up all their gains for the year. The S&P 500 is still up 5.1 percent for the year to date.
The S&P 500's top gainer was telecom services - a sign that investors were looking for safety in defensive U.S. sectors, possibly as money returns from riskier emerging markets and Europe. The S&P telecoms index <.GSPL> rose 0.3 percent.
Chesapeake Energy Corp rose 3.9 percent to $16.18, up for the second day after the company announced it has put a half-million acres in Wyoming and Colorado up for sale.
Data showed Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers' final May consumer sentiment index rose to 79.3 from 77.8 in the preliminary May report. It was the highest level since October 2007. Market reaction was muted.
In the aftermath of last Friday's botched initial public offering of Facebook , lead underwriter Morgan Stanley will adjust thousands of trades to ensure outstanding limit orders to sell will be filled at no more than $42.99 a share, the firm told its brokers on Thursday, according to several who listened to the call.
Facebook's stock slid 3.7 percent to $31.80, close to their all-time intraday low of $30.94.