The Nasdaq Composite Index has closed above 16,000 points for the first time, in its second-straight record finish powered by technology stocks, while pandemic jitters sent the Dow to its fourth losing session in the past five.
Both the Nasdaq and S&P 500 index scored a winning week, up 1.2 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively, after last week's declines snapped a five-week run of higher finishes.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average's second-successive weekly loss - this one of 1.4 per cent - wiped out the last of its November gains, extending the index's drop from a November 8 record high to 2.3 per cent.
Friday's fall was caused by banking, energy and airline stocks slumping on fears that European countries, battling a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, could follow Austria in moving towards a full lockdown.
Banking stocks fell 1.6 per cent, tracking a drop in Treasury yields as investors snapped up safe-haven bonds. The S&P energy index dropped 3.9 per cent, the worst performing sector, as crude prices fell on demand implications.
Carriers including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines, and cruiseliners Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp all dropped between 0.6 per cent and 2.8 per cent.
"It's a normal time to take risk off. And in this case, there's just so much liquidity that the market doesn't go down - just people take risk off by going into safe havens," said Jay Hatfield, chief executive of Infrastructure Capital Management in New York.
Falling yields and safe-haven demand supported major technology stocks, which in turn lifted the Nasdaq.
FAANG stocks, which have largely persevered through economic shocks since 2020, traded broadly higher. Netflix Inc gained along with other stay-at-home stocks.
Chipmaker Nvidia Corp rose 4.1 per cent to its third straight closing high, and the Philadelphia semiconductor index , up 0.3 per cent, hit its third record closing high in four.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 268.97 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 35,601.98; the S&P 500 lost 6.58 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 4,697.96; and the Nasdaq Composite added 63.73 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 16,057.44.
The S&P 500 gyrated on Friday before slipping into negative territory after a week in which retailers pushed it to a record finish the previous day.
The S&P consumer discretionary sector rose 0.3 per cent to a closing peak for a second day in a row, after breaking its lifetime intraday high on Friday. This follows strong retail earnings this week and positive signs for holiday shopping.
The information technology segment, up 0.8 per cent, was the best performer on the S&P 500.
It was buoyed by Intuit Inc, which jumped 10.1 per cent as brokerages lifted their price targets on the income tax software company after it beat quarterly estimates and raised forecasts.
Volume on US exchanges was 10.68 billion shares, compared with the 11.12 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
The S&P 500 posted 45 new 52-week highs and nine new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 100 new highs and 309 new lows.