Dow ends 10-day rally

U.S. stocks fell Friday, ending the longest winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average in nearly 17 years.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 25.03 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,514.11. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.53, or 0.2 percent, to 1,560.70. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 9.86, or 0.3 percent, to 3,249.07.

The S&P 500 closed just five points below its all-time closing high of 1,565, reached in October 2007. On Thursday, the Dow closed out a 10-day winning streak, its longest since November 1996.

The string of wins pushed the Dow up 484.65 points, or 3.4 percent, to a Thursday close of 14,539.14. The index’s closing price on Feb. 28, just before the rally began, was 14,054.49.

Trading Friday was tentative because investors fear that rising inflation will cause the Federal Reserve to retreat from policies aimed at boosting markets. The government said that consumer prices increased in February at the fastest pace in more than three years.

The increase was driven by a spike in gasoline prices. The core index, which excludes the volatile energy and food categories, increased more modestly. But both figures rose 2 percent compared with a year earlier, enough to get investors’ attention, said Peter Tchir, who runs the hedge fund TF Market Advisors.

“It’s real and it’s a drag, and I think people are growing concerned that it can get out of control quickly,” Tchir said. He said signs of economic improvement and inflation “make them wonder if there will be continued market pressure on the Fed” to end its bond-buying programs.

The market’s recent rally to multiyear highs was fueled in part by the Fed’s efforts to keep interest rates low and encourage investment.

The Dow’s long rally matched a 10-day winning streak that ended on Nov. 15, 1996. To find a longer uninterrupted series of gains, you would have to go back to Jan. 3, 1992, when the Dow rose for 11 consecutive days.

The index’s longest winning streak was 14 days, ending June 14, 1897.

Stocks opened lower and extended their losses midmorning after a closely-watched index of consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level since the end of 2011. The University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index dropped 5.8 points to 71.8, JPMorgan analyst Daniel Silver said in a note to clients.

A report by the Federal Reserve showed a strong increase in auto output boosted U.S. factory production last month, the latest sign that manufacturing is helping drive economic growth after lagging for much of 2012.

Factory output rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in February from January, after falling 0.3 percent in the previous month, the said Friday.

In other news:

KRISPY KREME: It plunged after saying its fiscal fourth-quarter net income dropped sharply and fell short of expectations. The stock fell
41 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $14.54.

AEROPOSTALE: The teen apparel chain fell 76 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $13.75, after posting a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter and saying it expects another one in the current quarter.