By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks opened lower on Friday, as weakness in technology shares outweighed gains in other shares spurred by relief a premature pullback of central bank stimulus measures was unlikely.
The S&P 500 had risen 2.6 percent over the prior three sessions as economic data and comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials soothed worries over an earlier-than-expected reining in of stimulative bond purchases by the Fed.
The benchmark S&P index had lost as much as 4.8 percent in the days following a June 19 statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve, when Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed could start slowing its bond purchases later this year if growth was strong enough.
Technology shares weighed on the market early on Friday. The S&P technology index fell 1.2 percent as the worst performing S&P sector.
Accenture PLC tumbled 13 percent to $69.76 as the biggest drag on the S&P 500 after the outsourcing and consulting services provider cut its full-year outlook and reported third-quarter revenue below analysts' estimates.
The results also put a dent in shares of competitor IBM
"Clearly, (Accenture's) outlook is weak and certainly the underperformance of technology as a sector in the stock market shows there are cyclical issues going on in tech as well as secular issues, rapid change occurring and purchasing managers holding back," said Tim Ghriskey chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
U.S.-listed shares of Research in Motion
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment was 84.1 points, slightly below a near six-year high of 84.5 in May. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a final June reading of 82.8.
The S&P 500 index is currently up 2.1 percent for the quarter and 12.4 percent for the year, its best first-half performance since 1998, though it is on track for its first monthly loss since October.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 119.23 points, or 0.79 percent, to 14,905.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 10.03 points, or 0.62 percent, to 1,603.17. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 14.54 points, or 0.43 percent, to 3,387.32.
Investors can expect a surge of volume at the close Friday when Russell Investments is due to set the final update for the annual reconstitution of its indexes.
Arch Coal Inc gained 2.2 percent to $3.68 after the company agreed to sell its Canyon Fuel subsidiary for $435 million in cash.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)