US STOCKS-Wall St flat as rally fades, Greece weighs

Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:40pm EDT

* Microsoft off after results

* Greece asks for aid package to handle debt

* Stocks: Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P flat; Nasdaq down 0.2 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US] (Updates to midday, changes byline)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Friday as a morning rally lost steam and worries about the long-term outlook for Greece's shaky finances curbed investors' appetite for risk.

Wall Street rallied briefly after government data showed a rebound in new home sales in March.

But Microsoft Corp Inc (MSFT.O) pressured the Nasdaq, with its shares falling 1.4 percent to $30.94 after the company reported earnings late on Thursday. For details, see [ID:nN21219595]

"We have pretty good news out there, but the market is tired and is showing signs of fatigue. We will have to see more confirmation on economic growth next week to move further," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 14.82 points, or 0.13 percent, at 11,149.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX rose 0.52 point, or 0.04 percent, at 1,209.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 4.69 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,514.38.

Positive earnings surprises have contributed to stocks' gains in recent weeks, and the S&P is up 77 percent from the March lows in 2009.

But one factor weighing on the market was debt-stricken Greece, which appealed to its European partners and the International Monetary Fund for emergency loans on Friday and set in motion the first financial rescue of a member of the euro zone. [ID:nLDE63M0XZ]

"This is a double-edge sword. It's positive in a sense that it will provide a short-term relief, but on the negative side, investors are now concerned that this might spread to weaker countries in Europe," Cardillo said.

American Express Co (AXP.N) helped the Dow index, rising more than 4.4 percent to $48.83 a day after it said net income more than doubled. [ID:nN22225832]

But Travelers Companies (TRV.N) shares fell 1.1 after the largest publicly traded U.S. property-casualty insurer reported a lower-than-expected first-quarter profit. [ID:nN23102001]

Diversified U.S. manufacturer Honeywell International Inc (HON.N) shares dipped 1.1 percent to $46.92 even after reporting first-quarter profit that topped Wall Street's expectations. [ID:nN23203062]

U.S.-traded shares of Swedish mobile telecom gear maker Ericsson (ERICb.ST) (ERIC.O) rose 8.4 percent to $12.20 despite weak results as investors applauded falling costs.

Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes rose last month to their highest level in eight months, the government said. [ID:nN23173134]

Other data showed new orders for long-lasting U.S. goods unexpectedly dropped in March as civilian aircraft bookings plunged, but excluding transportation, orders posted their largest gain in more than two years. [ID:nN23141873] (Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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