US STOCKS-Wall St falls in early trade as market takes breather

Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:07am EDT

* S&P 500 has ended higher 13 times in the past 16 sessions

* U.S. consumer sentiment rises to highest level in 6 years

* Amazon, Zynga shares down after weak results

* Vivendi overhaul gathers pace with $8.2 bln Activision deal

* Indexes down: Dow 0.5 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Friday as the market took a breather from a recent rally that has taken the S&P 500 up about 18 percent for the year and as investors digested major earnings.

Major U.S. stock indexes have advanced steadily this year with the S&P 500 hitting an all-time high earlier this week. The broad market index has ended higher 13 times in the past 16 sessions.

For the week, the S&P is down about 0.5 percent, its first down week in five, but the benchmark is up 4.8 percent so far this month, its best month since January. The Nasdaq is up 5.4 percent in July so far, its best monthly gain in a year and half.

"There were two days this week, Tuesday and Wednesday, when we came strikingly close to the 1,700 (on the S&P 500) but didn't quite move up. There is profit taking here and there as we face this resistance," said Randy Frederick, director of derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 70.04 points, or 0.45 percent, at 15,472.20. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 4.62 points, or 0.27 percent, at 1,681.32. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.34 points, or 0.01 percent, at 3,579.94.

Among the top decliners, Expedia Inc shares plunged 23 percent to $50.20, a day after the online travel agency reported a quarterly profit far short of market estimates, due to higher competition and poor performance in its discount website, Hotwire.com.

Zynga Inc shares plunged 17.4 percent to $2.89 a day after the company announced it will largely abandon its efforts to build an online gaming business in the United States.

Amazon.com Inc shares lost 2.1 percent to $297.14 after its forecast disappointed on income and revenue. Amazon faces with a weaker international market, overshadowing improved profit and economic conditions in the United States.

Starbucks Inc shares rose 6 percent to $72.34, a day after the world's biggest coffee chain posted a bigger-than-expected jump in quarterly profit.

As of Thursday's close, 47 percent of the S&P 500 companies reported earnings, and about 68 percent of them have topped profit forecasts, above the historical average of 63 percent. About 56 percent have reported better-than-expected revenue, a rate that is below the historical average.

In M&A news, Vivendi plans to sell the bulk of its stake in Activision Blizzard Inc to the video games maker and its management for $8.2 billion, the French conglomerate's second blockbuster deal in a week.

Activision shares, one of the most traded in early session, were up 14.8 percent to $17.45.

Data showed U.S. consumer sentiment rose in July to the highest level in six years as Americans felt better about the current economic climate, though they expected to see a slower rate of growth in the year ahead. Market reaction was muted.

European shares edged lower on Friday. Germany's DAX market had already unsettled some investors this week with profit warnings from some of its leading companies.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei share average slid 3 percent and was near a three-week low on Friday, with blue-chip exporters and financials leading declines on the back of a stronger yen and profit-taking.

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