U.S. stocks fell for third straight day on Friday as investors took weaker-than-expected results from computer maker Dell and homebuilder D.R. Horton as a further sign that the recovery would be anemic.

Following the S&P 500's gain of more than 60 percent from its 12-year closing low of March 9, investors were more sensitive to signs of weakness as they sought to justify lofty shares valuations.

The news of a 54 percent slide in Dell's quarterly profit rounded off a rocky week for the technology sector, which since the start of the market's run-up in March has been a darling as investors bet on a strong recovery that would spur corporate and consumer spending.

While it appears to us that the recession is over, there are a lot of lingering signs of pain on Main Street, said Sasha Kostadinov, portfolio manager and research analyst at Shaker Investments in Cleveland, Ohio. The unemployment is very high, lots of people out of work and that is still causing significant stress.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 19.57 points, or 0.19 percent, to 10,312.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 4.44 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,090.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shed 13.39 points, or 0.62 percent, to 2,143.43.

Trading was choppy with the monthly expiration of November options on Friday.

A rebound in the U.S. dollar pressured prices of global commodities, including crude. Energy stocks were hurt, such as Chevron Corp , which fell nearly 1 percent to $76.59.

Even so, the Dow's losses were curbed by buying of defensive stocks, or shares of companies seen better able to withstand an uncertain economy. Coca-Cola Co was up 1.3 percent and drug company Merck & Co rose 3.7 percent to $36.64.

Dow component General Electric Co and Vivendi SA were at least $1 billion apart in their valuation of Vivendi's stake in NBC Universal, the Financial Times reported, dampening hopes of a swift sale.

GE shares shed 1.3 percent to $15.56.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc declined 1.1 percent to $170.98 after the Wall Street Journal reported large shareholders have asked the investment bank -- on track to award employees the biggest bonuses in its history -- to pass more profits to investors. A Goldman spokesman said major shareholders had not contacted the company about lowering its bonus pool.

The S&P 500 is up 61.2 percent from the 12-year closing low of March 9 but was on track to halt a two-week winning streak on Friday.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)