Wall Street finishes flat but Apple reaches another high

NEW YORK Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:34pm EDT

1 of 3. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, August 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of Apple climbed to another record on Monday, keeping the Nasdaq index afloat in the lowest trading volume of the year, with investors looking ahead to a key speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) hit an all-time high of $680.87 during the day after the iPad maker won a $1 billion judgment in a patent lawsuit against Samsung Electronics (005930.KS). The Korean company said it would contest the verdict. Apple, the world's most valuable company, ended up 1.9 percent at $676.68.

The verdict on Friday jolted shares of Google Inc (GOOG.O), as the case could change the dynamics of the mobile device market. Companies using Google's Android system may have to consider design changes. Google shares declined 1.4 percent to $669.22.

Beyond the notable moves of those tech giants, investors mostly cooled their heels before Bernanke's remarks to central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday.

Data showed volume was 4.46 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the Amex. The year-to-date average is about 6.6 billion.

Expectations are for Fed action of some kind next month, but Bernanke is likely to keep markets guessing about the timing of another round of bond purchases.

"The big upswing in the equity market that we've seen is based on the belief the Fed is going to do something and that Bernanke is going to say sooner rather than later that he's willing to commit to further easing," said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Associates in Toronto.

"But I don't think he's got the policy support within the Fed to do that, so the markets are set for some more correction here."

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 33.30 points, or 0.25 percent, at 13,124.67. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 0.69 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,410.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 3.40 points, or 0.11 percent, at 3,073.19.

Stocks have rallied in recent weeks on growing expectations for a third round of quantitative easing from the Fed, as well as possible action from the European Central Bank. News from Jackson Hole could determine whether the rally that took the S&P index to four-year highs will be sustained.

The S&P 500 has been unable to stay above the April high of 1,422.38, which is seen as a key resistance point, the index finds support at the 1,400 level.

Investors will be faced with other potentially market-moving events in the next few weeks.

The European Central Bank will meet on September 6 and is expected to take some action to support the region's sputtering economy and tackle the debt crisis.

Germany's constitutional court is expected to rule on the legality of the euro zone bailout fund on September 12.

The Dow was led down by shares of IBM Corp (IBM.N), which agreed to buy Kenexa Corp KNXA.N for $1.3 billion. IBM shares were off 1.1 percent at $195.69. Shares of Kenexa were up 41.4 percent at $45.79.

In other deal news, car rental firm Hertz Global Holdings (HTZ.N) said it would buy smaller rival Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group DTG.N for about $2.3 billion, ending years of an on-off takeover battle.

Shares of Hertz climbed 8.1 percent to $14.21 while Dollar Thrifty gained 7.5 percent to $87.08.

Hudson City Bancorp Inc's (HCBK.O) stock jumped 15.7 percent to $7.45 after the company agreed to be acquired by M&T Bank Corp (MTB.N) for $3.7 billion in cash and stock. M&T shares advanced 4.6 percent to $89.82.

Decliners outpaced advancers on the NYSE by about 15 to 14 while on the Nasdaq declining stocks were about even with advancing ones.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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