US STOCKS-Wall St eases for fourth day in five

Fri Aug 9, 2013 2:52pm EDT

* U.S. stock indexes poised for worst week since June

* Priceline gains on results, near $1,000 a share

* BlackBerry open to going private, sources tell Reuters

* Dow down 0.4 pct, S&P 500 off 0.3 pct, Nasdaq off 0.1 pct

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Aug 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks dipped in light volume on Friday, putting the three major indexes on track for their worst week since June, as investors found little incentive to buy with equity prices not far below last week's record levels.

Wall Street has struggled this week as an absence of trading incentives kept buyers at bay. Comments from Federal Reserve officials, which created confusion over when the central bank would begin to scale back its stimulus, added to uncertainty.

The lack of clarity over the Fed's plans gave investors a compelling reason to pull a record $3.27 billion out of U.S.-based funds that hold Treasuries in the latest week ended Aug. 7, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday.

Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, reiterated late Thursday that the central bank will probably begin cutting back on its massive bond-buying stimulus next month, as long as economic data continues to improve.

"People are looking ahead to the September FOMC meeting and the prospect that the Fed begins its long-awaited exit strategy," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist, RDM Financial, in Westport, Connecticut.

While many investors are concerned that economic growth will stall without the Fed's help, stock prices have been supported by some strong earnings and encouraging data overseas.

In China, industrial output rose more than expected, adding to a string of data that indicated the economy may be stabilizing after an extended period of tepid growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 63.56 points, or 0.41 percent, at 15,434.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 4.45 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,693.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 4.89 points, or 0.13 percent, at 3,664.23.

For the week, the Dow is down 1.7 percent, on track to snap a six-week string of gains. The S&P 500 is down 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq is down 0.7 percent.

A week ago, both the Dow and the S&P 500 ended on Friday at record closing highs, with the blue-chip average at 15,658.36 and the broad benchmark at 1,709.67.

J.C. Penney Co., down 5.3 percent at $12.93, was ranked among the S&P 500 biggest percentage decliners. Bill Ackman, the company's top investor, fired back at the retailer's board on Friday, requesting that it meet as soon as possible so it can select a new chairman and decide on other matters.

Home Depot Inc shares dropped 1.4 percent to $78.89 and were the top drag on the Dow.

U.S.-listed shares of BlackBerry Ltd jumped 3.6 percent to $9.57 after Reuters reported that the company was warming to the idea of going private, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Economic data showed U.S. wholesale inventories unexpectedly fell 0.2 percent in June, marking a second straight month of declines, versus expectations calling for a gain of 0.4 percent.

Priceline.com Inc, rose 5.1 percent to $981.40 a day after the online travel company reported earnings that beat expectations and gave a strong outlook. Some analysts speculate the stock's price will cross $1,000 soon, which would be a first for a Standard & Poor's 500 stock.

Monster Beverage Corp rose 1.6 percent to $64.47 after JPMorgan raised its price target on the stock to $70 from $52. Late Thursday, the energy drinks company reported earnings that missed expectations.

Of 446 companies in the S&P 500 that had reported results through Friday morning, Thomson Reuters data showed that 68 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, slightly above the 67 percent beat rate over the past four quarters.