Financial shares were leading the broader indexes lower on Friday on the uncertainty surrounding the Treasury's plan to stress-test about 20 of the nation's largest banks.

Investors know basically nothing about how these tests will work, said Matthew Carniol, chief currency strategist at And even more importantly, there's uncertainty regarding which banks may not live up to the more-stringent standards.

Actually, forcing the banks to undergo stricter testing is a good thing if it eventually leads to the liquidation of insolvent institutions. Japan threw billions of yen at their banks in the 1990's, but it wasn't until 2003 when the government nationalized the insolvent institutions that their economy began to emerge from the 'lost decade.'

In recent trade, the DOW was moving lower by 0.76% while the broader S&P 500 was lower by 0.63%. Both indexes have moved between gains and losses at least four times on the day. The technology-focused NASDAQ was trading lower by 0.18% and the XLF financial sector ETF was lower by 3.37%

The dollar was mixed in N.Y., falling against the euro and pound while it gained on the yen and Australian dollar.
Crude for March delivery was trading higher for the first time this week with a gain of 4.12% to $$35.36 per barrel. Gold for April delivery was lower by 0.83% to 940.60 per ounce.