Dow sheds 100.17 points, finishing lower for week

U.S. stocks finished lower Friday, pulling the Dow Jones industrial average into negative territory for the week, as investors fretted about the recovery and a week of upheaval in commodities.

“There’s a lot of question marks to the economic recovery at the same time the Fed is about to take (quantitative easing two) away, and just like with any drug addict, there’s a period of withdrawal,” said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak.

The Dow average shed 100.17 points to close at 12,595.75, pulling the blue-chip index 0.3 percent lower for the week.

Also lapsing into the red from last Friday’s close, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index declined 10.88 points to end at 1,337.77, with financial companies faring worst among the benchmark’s 10 industry groups. The index lost 0.2 percent for the week.

Retaining a modest 0.03 percent weekly gain, the Nasdaq composite index fell 34.57 points Friday to end at 2,828.47. 

Walmart purchasing stake in Chinese online company

Walmart Stores Inc. is buying a minority stake in online company Yihaodian as it looks to tap into growing online sales in China.

Terms of the deal and the size of the stake were not disclosed.

Yihaodian sells groceries, consumer electronics, clothing and other items. The Chinese company was launched in July 2008 and has 2,000 workers.

Walmart had 328 stores in China as of Dec. 31, according to a regulatory filing. The deal is expected to close within 60 days, Walmart said. 

Alibaba concerns drive Yahoo stock down again

Yahoo Inc.’s prized investment in Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group has abruptly turned into a stock market millstone.

The weight drove down Yahoo’s stock by 62 cents, or 3.6 percent, to close Friday at $16.55. It marked the third straight session that the stock has fallen because of Alibaba worries. The sell-off has reduced Yahoo’s market value by about $2.5 billion, or nearly 11 percent.

The reason: a surprise disclosure by Yahoo on Tuesday that Alibaba had spun off its online payment service, Alipay.

The split caused investors to re-evaluate the value of Yahoo’s 43 percent stake in Alibaba, one of China’s most powerful Internet companies. To make matters worse, public bickering over the timing and handling of the Alipay spinoff has brought the rocky relationship between Yahoo and Alibaba into sharper focus. The dispute adds to the uncertainty about whether Yahoo will be able to make as much money from its Alibaba investment as analysts once thought. 

Yum Brands makes offer for Chinese hot pot chain

Fast-food restaurant owner Yum Brands Inc. said Friday that it is formally offering to buy most of the remaining shares of Chinese hot pot chain Little Sheep.

Restaurant growth overseas, particularly in China, has been a key driver for Yum’s profit growth.

The operator of the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC chains is offering 83 cents per share to boost its stake in Little Sheep Group Ltd. That is a 32 percent premium to Thursday’s closing price. 

Battery shortage for Prius adds to production delays

Some buyers will have to wait until next April for deliveries of the latest Toyota Prius because of shortages of a new battery that’s adding to production delays from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The launch Friday of the more spacious “Prius a,” or “Prius alpha,” a revamp of Toyota’s popular gasoline-electric hybrid, had been initially set for April. But the March 11 magnitude-9.0 earthquake in northeastern Japan destroyed key parts suppliers and forced a delay.

Toyota has said production won’t be completely back to predisaster levels until late this year.

— From news service reports