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Amazon, Ford results send stocks lower

By: KEN SWEET AP Markets Writer
April 25, 2014 Updated: April 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm
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photo - FILE - Robert Mericle leaves the William J Nealon Federal Building and United States Courthouse, in this Feb. 26, 2014 file photo taken in Scranton, Pa. The developer at the center of one of the biggest judicial scandals in U.S. history is scheduled to be sentenced Friday April 25, 2014 in northeastern Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Mark Moran, File)
FILE - Robert Mericle leaves the William J Nealon Federal Building and United States Courthouse, in this Feb. 26, 2014 file photo taken in Scranton, Pa. The developer at the center of one of the biggest judicial scandals in U.S. history is scheduled to be sentenced Friday April 25, 2014 in northeastern Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Mark Moran, File) 

NEW YORK - The stock market fell sharply Friday, dragged down by disappointing quarterly results from Amazon and Ford. Escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine also weighed on the market.

Worried investors sold their risky assets and moved into the traditional safe havens: bonds, gold and stocks that pay high dividends like utilities.

The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 15.21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,863.40. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 140.19 points, or 0.9 percent, to 16,361.46 and the Nasdaq composite lost 72.78 points, or 1.8 percent, to 4,075.56. Friday's sell-off was enough to push the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq into the red for the week.

Technology stocks, which have been volatile for the last two months, were once again a hotbed of selling.

Amazon, the world's largest online store, sank $33.32, or 10 percent, to $303.83. Amazon reported late Thursday an increase in first-quarter profit, but the company also said that spending on investments will likely lead to an operating loss in the second quarter.

The retail giant dragged the rest of the technology sector lower, making it one of the worst performing sectors in the S&P 500. Netflix fell more than 6 percent, Priceline lost 5 percent, Facebook fell 5 percent and Twitter lost more than 7 percent.

Investors have had little patience for companies missing their forecasts this quarter, said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.

"The market is in a precarious position at the moment, and overreacts to bad news far more than it did last year," he said, noting as an example the 10 percent drop in Amazon's stock price, even though the company meet analysts' forecasts for the most recent quarter.

For a second day, the escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine weighed on U.S. investor sentiment.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday accused Russia of failing to live up to its commitments to ease the crisis in Ukraine. Kerry said bluntly that unless Moscow takes immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, Washington will have no choice but to impose additional sanctions. In a separate event, Ukraine's deputy foreign minister said he feared a Russian invasion was imminent.

Investments thought to be less risky were among the few assets to rise Friday. Bond prices rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.66 percent from 2.68 percent Thursday. Gold rose $10.20, or 0.8 percent, to $1,300.80 an ounce.

Dividend-rich utility stocks also rose. The Dow Jones utility index, a basket of 15 utility stocks, rose 1 percent to 551.66, its highest level since December 2007.

The U.S. might have put in place the sanctions against Russia and its officials to punish that country, but the measures are starting to have an impact the profits of some U.S. companies as well.

Visa fell $10.47, or 5 percent, to $198.93 after it warned that the U.S. sanctions were causing Russian banks to use other companies to process payments. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country will create its own payment processing system. MasterCard was also hurt by the news. Its stock fell $3.69, or 5 percent, to $70.66.

Visa's decline accounted for roughly half the fall in the Dow on Friday.

In other company news:

- Ford fell 54 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $15.78 after the company reported earnings that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. Worldwide sales rose 6 percent in the first quarter, but the company reported a sales drop in North America that cut into the company's profit. General Motors fell 45 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $33.72.

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