U.S. stocks fluctuate after yesterday’s drop

U.S. stocks fluctuated, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (CME:ESM14) lost the most in five weeks yesterday, as investors watched developments on Ukraine.

Utility companies in the S&P 500 rose for a third straight day, gaining 0.7% as a group. Aeropostale Inc. tumbled 14% after mounting losses and a $150 million loan raised concern the company is running out of cash.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 1,847.96 at 12:03 p.m. in New York. The equity gauge is heading for its largest weekly decline since January, after closing at an all-time high on March 7. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 14.67 points, or 0.1%, to 16,123.56. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 4% below the 30-day average at this time of day.

“I think we’ve been kind of expecting volatility right now,” Jerry Braakman, chief investment officer of First American Trust in Santa Ana, California, said in a phone interview. His firm manages $1.1 billion. “There’s a lot of different stuff going on in the world.”

The S&P 500 erased its gain for the year yesterday as weaker-than-forecast economic data from China and escalating tension in Ukraine overshadowed reports showing an improving U.S. economy. The index is down 1.6% for the week.

The U.S. and the European Union are threatening sanctions against Russia if it doesn’t back down from annexing Crimea, which is holding a referendum in two days to join Ukraine’s former Soviet-era master.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in London today. Lavrov said Russia has no plans to intervene in eastern Ukraine, and that it would respect the will of the Crimean people.

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