For Stock Market, TGIF

Stocks slipped from bad to worse on Friday, as the three major indexes lost ground throughout the trading session and brought an appropriate end to the market’s reddest week in nearly four years.

Overseas influences — China’s stock selloff on Tuesday, a rally Friday by the yen — and jitters about the domestic economy battered U.S. stocks all week, with only Wednesday spared from the bloodbath.

The Dow Jones finished Friday down 120 points to 12114, a 1 percent drop, while the Nasdaq tumbled 36 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2368. The S&P 500 lost 16 points, or 1.1 percent, to end the day at 1387.

For the week, the Dow fell 4.3 percent, the Nasdaq 5.8 percent and the S&P 4.4 percent. Not since March 2003 have blue-chips taken such a pounding.

The strength — or weakness — of the housing market weighed heavily on investors Friday as subprime market lender New Century Financial Corp. announced it would delay filing its quarterly report. Also, the Wall Street Journal reported that Countrywide Financial, the top home mortgage lender in the country, last year had a significant rise in late payments. Analysts said the housing market slump could deepen if lenders begin to tighten loan standards, as Freddie Mac earlier this week announced it would do.

The one bright spot on Friday for tech stocks was handheld device manufacturer Palm Inc., whose shares surged 1.81, or 11 percent, to 18.30 on rumors that it could be bought out by a larger competitor such as Motorola or Nokia.

Perhaps benefiting from bargain hunters, Dell gained 17 cents, or 0.8 percent, to 23.18 a day after missing revenue estimates for the fiscal fourth quarter. While the computer maker actually rose on Thursday as well, shares still finished the week off from last Friday’s close of 24.19.

For most major tech stocks, though, Friday was a downer. Software giant Microsoft fell 33 cents, or 1.2 percent, to 27.76, despite winning a ruling today in a speech-technology patent lawsuit with Alcatel-Lucent.

Nanotechnology player Applied Materials, Inc. , which shed 47 cents, or 2.6 percent, to 17.98.

Server memory-subsystem vendor Netlist, Inc. plunged 98 cents, or 11.6 percent, a day after Wall Street investment firm Thomas Weisel Partners lowered its annual revenue estimate for the company to $246.8 million from $273.6 million.

And search king Google fell 9.55, or 2.1 percent, to 438.68 in the wake of news that the federal Securities and Exchange Commission was probing the company’s accounting practices.

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