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U.S. stocks edge lower in thin trade; Dow Jones down 0.13%

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Shutterstock photo - - U.S. stocks opened slightly lower on Friday, as trading volumes were expected to remain thin in the absence of any major U.S. economic reports, while concerns over tensions in Ukraine continued to weigh on sentiment.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow 30 fell 0.13%, the S&P 500 edged down 0.18%, while the NASDAQ Composite slid 0.27%.

Investors remained cautious after pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine ignored a public call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to postpone a referendum on self-rule. They said they plan to go ahead on Sunday with a vote that some fear could lead to a civil war.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Friday that the European Union was still struggling to agree on what approach to take on the crisis and that the event was the biggest threat to European security since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In the tech sector, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) dropped 0.58% amid reports it is in talks to buy Beats Electronics, a headphone company founded by rapper Dr. Dre, for $3.2 billion, in what would be the tech giant's largest acquisition ever.

On the upside, Omnicom (NYSE:OMC) rallied 1.19% as it and Paris-based Publicis (PARIS:PUBP) announced that they had abandoned their $35 billion plan to create the world's largest advertising company.

The two companies said they were not able to overcome obstacles that slowed progress toward the deal's completion.

Meanwhile, Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL) reported earnings that beat market expectations, but warned its operating margin would drop as it spends money to further build its network of stores. Shares in the clothing retailer dove 6.35% at the open of the U.S. trading session.

Gap (NYSE:GPS) also posted preliminary first-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates after the close on Thursday, sending the retailer's shares up 4.08%.

Elsewhere, News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) jumped 1.95% after sayong late Thursday that profit was 11 cents a share in the fiscal third quarter, exceeding the 3 cents average analyst estimate. The company also reported $2.08 billion in revenue for the period ending March 31, above analysts' projections for $2.06 billion.

Other stocks likely to be in focus included Liberty Interactive (NASDAQ:LINTA), scheduled to report quarterly results later in the day.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 shed 0.47%, France's CAC 40 declined 0.57%, Germany's DAX slid 0.31%, while Britain's FTSE 100 retreated 0.36%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.12%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.25%. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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