Stocks fall Friday, chalk up first positive week in month

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks fell Friday but still managed a first positive week in four as investors fretted over troubles in Spain, where banks are under severe financial strain and government bond yields shot higher.

“European leaders need to address the situation quickly. The nature of contagion is it feeds on itself,” said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

“Traders by and large tend to square their positions before a big holiday weekend where there’s potential for news flow, especially from Europe,” Skrainka added.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 74.92 points, or 0.6 percent, to 12,454.83, with the blue-chip index up 0.7 percent for the week.

Posting a 1.7 percent rise from the week-ago close, the S&P 500 index retreated 2.86 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,317.82. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.85 point to 2,837.53, leaving it 2.1 percent higher from last Friday’s close.

The European-related uncertainty had investors once again flocking to the perceived safe havens of U.S. Treasury notes, the U.S. dollar and gold.

Yields on the benchmark 10-year note fell to 1.74 percent, while the dollar gained against currency rivals, including the euro. Gold futures for June delivery climbed $11.40, or 0.7 percent, to end at $1,568.90 an ounce.

Oil prices advanced, with the July contract rising 20 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $90.86 a barrel.

P&G aims to alter Tide Pods package so kids can’t eat it

DALLAS – The maker of Tide Pods will create a new double-latch lid to deter children from accessing and eating the brightly colored detergent packets, a company spokesman said Friday.

Procter & Gamble spokesman Paul Fox said the Cincinnati-based company plans to create a new lid on tubs of Tide Pods “in the next couple of weeks.” The company continues to study the design of the package, Fox said.

Doctors say children sometimes swallow Tide Pods and similar laundry products, packets about an inch square that are meant to be dropped into a washing machine in place of liquid or powder detergent. Nearly 250 cases nationally have been reported to poison control centers this year, a figure that’s expected to rise. No deaths have been reported.

Almost all of the cases so far have been reported since March, when several companies began to market the packets. A handful of children have been hospitalized for several days.

Icahn buys into Chesapeake Energy, calls for shake-up

NEW YORK – Activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a sizable stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp. and is calling for at least four of the company’s directors to be replaced.

Icahn spent about $785 million to buy 50.1 million shares, or 7.6 percent, of the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer.

The billionaire investor’s stock buy was disclosed in a regulatory filing Friday. It comes as Chesapeake has been criticized for allowing CEO Aubrey McClendon to borrow money from a company it was doing business with; run a hedge fund that bet on oil and gas prices; and for allowing him the perk of buying personal stakes in company wells.

— From news service reports