Mar 21 - Summary: Stocks retreat after S&P 500 touches new high; Fed officials try to clear up ''six month'' misconception; Darden results bad as expected; Turkey blocks Twitter; MasterCard/Visa Russia sanctions. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Whoa! Not so fast! That was the message of the market after the S&P 500 touched an all-time high. Stocks gave up gains after that. Biotechs took a beating, dragging the Nasdaq down by a full percent. For the week, the Dow gained 1.4 percent and the Nasdaq gained half of that. Over-reaction! That was the message from St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard. He tried to shed some light on Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's market-rocking comments Wednesday, when she predicted interest rates could rise six months after ending the Fed's bond-buying program. SOUNDBITE: JAMES BULLARD, ST. LOUIS FEDERAL RESERVE PRESIDENT (ENGLISH) SPEAKING: "On the 'considerable period' being six months, the surveys that I had seen from the private sector had that kind of number penciled in. That wasn't very different from what we had heard from financial markets. So, I just think she's just repeating that." Darden is sticking to plans to spin off or sell Red Lobster, ignoring calls from two activist investors to put the fate of the seafood chain to a shareholder vote. A quarterly report card shows Red Lobster continues to perform poorly - but companywide results were only as bad as forecasted. Shares of the casual dining operator rallied close to three percent. 21-cents is how much businesses will continue to shell out to banks every time a customer swipes a card. A U.S. appeals court upheld the Federal Reserve's debit card "swipe fees" on Friday, reversing a lower court's decision to throw them out after merchants complained the charges were too high. And sticking with cards - Visa and MasterCard, the world's leading electronic payment systems, stopped processing transaction for clients at a large Russian bank hit by U.S. sanctions. Twitter is another company caught up in geopolitics. Access to the social network was blocked in Turkey ahead of bitterly contested elections. But Twitter quickly found a work around - urging Tweeters to send and access tweets through old-school text messaging. Shares of Twitter squeaked out a gain even though the Turkey situation highlights political risk for the company. And wrapping up with a look at European stocks, markets were up Friday, polishing their best week in a month.