Consumer index dip halts market’s week-long rise

U.S. stocks mostly declined Friday, limiting weekly gains and halting the Dow’s longest up ride in more than a year, after an index of consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in March.

“The data was mildly disappointing, but it’s important not to read too much into one number. There was nothing too concerning considering the strong data we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks,” said Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector analysis at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

Up 2.4 percent for the week, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 20.14 points, or 0.2 percent, to 13,232.62. Friday’s loss halted a seven-session climb by the Dow, its longest winning streak since February 2011.

The S&P 500 added 1.57 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,404.17, with energy leading sector gains and utilities losing the most ground among its 10 major industry groups. The index also rose 2.4 percent from the week-ago close.

The Nasdaq composite declined 1.11 points to 3,055.26, also rising 2.4 percent for the week.

Crude prices rose, with oil futures for April delivery rising $1.95 to end at $107.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Other economic reports Friday had the Federal Reserve reporting the output of U.S. factories, mines and utilities held flat in February, while January production was revised to a 0.4 percent increase from an initial estimate of unchanged.

Goldman Sachs says it will strengthen rules on conflicts

Goldman Sachs, the investment bank blistered by a resigning employee this week for how it does business, said Friday that it will try to strengthen internal rules to prevent questions about conflicts of interest.

A Delaware judge almost killed a deal between two energy companies last month because Goldman had ties to both parties: The bank collected a fee for advising one company, and a Goldman banker owned stock in the other.

Goldman was stung Wednesday by an Op-Ed article published in The New York Times by a young banker who was quitting the company. He accused Goldman executives of privately insulting clients and not acting in customers’ best interest.

The bank did not offer specifics Friday on the review of its policies.

McDonald’s, Carrefour said selling past expiration dates

Chinese state television has accused McDonald’s and French retailer Carrefour of selling expired chicken products in separate incidents amid public anxiety in China over food safety.

McDonald’s Corp. and Carrefour Inc. issued public apologies Friday and said they were investigating the report by China Central Television.

The report Thursday said a McDonald’s restaurant in Beijing sold chicken wings 90 minutes after they were cooked while the company’s rules set a 30-minute limit. It said employees at a Carrefour store in the central city of Zhengzhou changed expiration dates on some chicken and sold regular chickens as more expensive free-range birds.

Food safety is a sensitive issue in China, which has been rocked by scandals ranging from deadly infant formula to chemical-laced pork and recycled restaurant oil.

— From news service reports