US: Wall St ends little changed after mixed data batch

[NEW YORK] US stocks ended little changed on Tuesday as the US economy grew more than expected last quarter but soft readings on consumer confidence and house prices kept major indexes in a tight range.

Third-quarter gross domestic product came in much stronger than expected but separate data showing consumer confidence sliding to a five-month low and a further moderation in house price gains put a lid on the market's advance.

The moves did not show much conviction in either direction and volume was low, with about 6.1 billion shares traded, below this month's daily average of 6.36 billion. US markets will be closed on Thursday, while Friday will be a half-day session. "We did get that great GDP number noting earth-shattering but confirmation the US economy is really doing well and firing on all metrics," said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director at US Bank Wealth Management in Phoenix.

He said central bank support out of Asia and Europe is effectively stepping in as the US Federal Reserve takes a step back, but "there is still concern about global growth not only in Europe but also in emerging markets." The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.96 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 17,814.94, the S&P 500 lost 2.38 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 2,067.03 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.36 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 4,758.25.

The S&P hit an intraday record near 2,075 and has risen in 12 of its last 15 sessions. It is up 13.5 per cent from an intraday six-month low hit mid-October.

Energy shares were the weakest performers on the benchmark index, down 1.6 per cent. US crude futures fell 2.5 per cent to near their lowest in more than four years ahead of an OPEC meeting on Thursday where a cut in production will likely be discussed.

US Bank's Kravetz said if anything substantial comes out of the meeting markets will be volatile on Friday due to the expected low volumes.

Exxon Mobil fell 1 percent to US$94.78 while Chevron was off 1.2 per cent to US$116.15.

Apple hit a high of US$119.75, briefly reaching a US$700 billion market capitalization, the largest on Wall Street. The second-largest publicly-traded US company, Exxon, has a market cap just above $400 billion. Apple closed down 0.9 per cent at US$117.60, ranking as the largest points weight on the S&P 500.

Tiffany & Co rose 2.5 per cent to US$107.60 after same-store sales growth beat expectations.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 1,638 to 1,414, for a 1.16-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,371 issues fell and 1,324 advanced, for a 1.04-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 80 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 123 new highs and 43 new lows.


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