(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended on a lower note ahead of the long holiday weekend amid concerns about debt-plagued Greece and Spain's struggle with its finances.
S&P 500 Index shed 0.22 percent to finish at 1,317.81. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.60 percent to end at 12,454.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.07 percent to close at 2,837.53.
The stocks fluctuated in a relatively thin day of U.S. economic data and corporate announcements as investors avoided aggressive moves ahead of a three-day weekend. U.S. stock markets are closed Monday for a holiday.
On the economic front, a report showed that U.S. consumer sentiment for May improved to the highest since 2007. Data from Reuters and the University of Michigan showed that U.S. consumer confidence this month rose to 79.3 from reading of 77.8 the mid-month.
Rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded five banks in Spain, including troubled Bankia, even as one of the country's regional governments said it needed funding help. Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria reportedly said the government is analyzing "with all caution" requests from regional governments to help them regain access to capital markets.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: PAY, MENT, TLB, QSFT, FRO, DCTH
In corporate news, VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE:PAY) slumped 15.49 percent after the maker of point-of-sale terminals guided third quarter revenue below Wall Street's view. Second quarter earnings and revenue exceeded market expectations, on acceleration in organic growth and the addition of Hypercom-brand sales.
Talbots Inc. (NYSE:TLB) tumbled as much as 41 percent after private equity firm Sycamore Partners informed that it is not prepared to execute a transaction to acquire the women's apparel retailer for $3.05 per share.
Mentor Graphics Corp. (NASDAQ:MENT) retreated 13.08 percent after the supplier of electronic design automation software's quarterly revenue missed Wall Street view.
Quest Software Inc. (NASDAQ:QSFT) hit a 14-month high. Bloomberg reported that Dell Inc.