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US: Wall St posts gains for 4th week; ends flat for day

[NEW YORK] US stocks posted a fourth straight week of increases but ended Friday little changed as losses in healthcare shares offset gains in energy.

Apple shares rose 1.2 per cent to US$114.18, another record high. The stock lifted the Nasdaq, which outperformed other indexes.

Biotech stocks were among biggest decliners in the S&P health care index, which fell 0.8 per cent and was the biggest drag on the S&P 500. Gilead fell 2.1 per cent to US$102.06, while Biogen Idec lost 3.9 per cent to US$305.43 and was the biggest percentage decliner on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

The Nasdaq biotech index shed 2 per cent, its biggest drop in about a month.

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Energy stocks rose 0.8 per cent following a bounceback in oil prices.

Also helping to limit the day's losses was a stronger-than-expected rise in October retail sales.

The S&P 500, which hasn't made a 1 per cent move this month, is now up 10.4 per cent for the year. "Most portfolio managers are lagging the indices and there are going to be some aggressive efforts to make up for performance in the next six weeks. Those that are under invested are going to want to be more invested," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. "The market will either tread water or move higher from here to the end of the year" barring a huge drop in oil prices, he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 18.05 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 17,634.74, the S&P 500 gained 0.49 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 2,039.82 and the Nasdaq Composite added 8.40 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 4,688.54.

For the week, the Dow and S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 1.2 per cent.

Shares of Hertz Global Holdings fell 4.6 per cent to US$21.69 after it said it would restate 2012 and 2013 financial results.

Shares of low-cost airline Virgin America Inc soared 30.4 per cent in their market debut.

Volume was again light. About 6 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 6.5 billion average this month, according to BATS Global Markets.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 1,618 to 1,452, for a 1.11-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,380 issues fell and 1,309 advanced for a 1.05-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and four new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 65 new highs and 53 new lows.


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