Stocks erased early gains and closed lower Friday, with the Dow industrials extending its losing streak to three sessions as investors worried that they had become too complacent about corporate profits.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 50.81 points at 8,796.08, capping a losing week and the first time since late January that the index suffered three back-to-back losses. It was down 110 points for the week.
Analysts said it was becoming difficult for investors to justify the market's lofty levels with corporate profits facing threats from the Asian economic crisis and the possibility that interest rates will head higher.
The Commerce Department said Americans' personal income increased a strong 0.6 percent in February for the second consecutive month. The gain, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $7.14 trillion, outpaced the healthy 0.4 percent advance in consumer spending to $5.66 trillion.
But some analysts saw weakness in the personal income number because the increase was less than expected.
The Dow's weakest components included Procter & Gamble, down 1 7/8 at 84 1/8 3/1 6; Alcoa, which was down 1 at 70 3/4 ; Chevron, down 1 5/1 6 at 83; and Coca Cola down 1 3/8 at 75 1/1 6. Other active issues included McDonald's, up 2 at 57 3/8 ; and General Electric, up 1 1/1 6 at 83 1/2 .
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 6-to-5 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 582.19 million shares, down from Thursday's pace.
The technology-laden Nasdaq composite, which set its set its third consecutive record Thursday, was down 4.92 points at 1,823.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 list was down 5.36 at 1,095.44.
The NYSE composite index also reversed an early advance and was down 2.41 at 569.80, and the American Stock Exchange composite index was down 1.06 at 738.33.
Bonds ended little changed Friday. The price of the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond ended up 5/3 2 point, or $1.56 per $1,000 invested. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction, fell to 5.96 percent from 5.97 percent late Thursday.
The Lehman Brothers Daily Treasury Bond Index, reflecting price movements on bonds with maturities of a year or longer, was at 1,275.59, nudging up from 1,275.43 late Thursday.
In the tax-exempt market, the Bond Buyer index of 40 actively traded municipal bonds fell 3/1 6 point to 123 3/3 2. The average yield to maturity rose to 5.26 percent, from 5.25 percent.