U.S. stocks fell on Friday as market uncertainty over Egypt grew amid risks of spreading unrest in the Middle East.
Protesters insisted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down in the increasingly tense situation, which raised fears of violence in the most populous Arab nation, a key U.S. ally in an oil-producing region.
Egyptian State TV said an important, urgent statement from the presidency was imminent, and there was another television report that Mubarak and his family had left Cairo.
The situation in Egypt remains fluid and a little bit difficult, said John Brady, senior vice president at MF Global in Chicago.
Until there are pictures of (Mubarak) outside of Egypt, investors will remain skeptical of the news coming out.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 23.69 points, or 0.19 percent, to 12,205.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dropped 3.26 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,318.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dropped 6.26 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,784.19.
The S&P 500, which closed at 1,321.87 Thursday, has technical support at 1,313 and 1,300 -- meaning a drop to those levels could entice buyers.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan U.S. consumer sentiment index rose to its highest level in eight months in early February, boosted by recent tax cuts and optimism about the economy. The reaction by stocks was muted.
Brent oil prices rose 0.6 percent to trade near $102 a barrel on fears oil flows could be disrupted. NYMEX crude futures fell 0.9 percent.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)