US STOCKS-Dow, S&P trade flat; indexes near record highs

Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:01pm EST

* Dow, S&P 500 hovering near all-time highs

* Facebook off on plan to offer shares; results lift Oracle

* U.S. jobless claims near 9-month high; home resales slide

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

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - The Dow and the S&P 500 barely budged on Thursday as investors paused after a strong rally in the previous session that drove both indexes to record closing highs.

Wednesday's rally came after the Federal Reserve announced a plan to trim its monthly bond purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion beginning in January. The statement was accompanied by a dovish indication of rock-bottom interest rates for the foreseeable future, a combination that gave the Dow and the S&P 500 their largest daily gains in two months.

Despite that, trading volume has been below average, with many investors having locked in their gains for the year ahead of the coming holidays.

"There's a lot of transparency in the market, but most of the noise has been made," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier Wealth/First Allied Securities in New York. "We should expect to continue seeing light volume and not much selling."

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.22 points, or 0.01 percent, at 16,169.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2.32 points, or 0.13 percent, at 1,808.33. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 12.70 points, or 0.31 percent, at 4,057.37.

The S&P 500 was only a few points away from its all-time high of 1,813.55, while the Dow reached an all-time intraday high earlier in the session.

Oracle jumped 6.6 percent to $36.87 a day after the software maker reported earnings that beat expectations and gave a bullish revenue outlook.

Facebook fell 0.9 percent to $55.07 after the social network company announced the offering of 70 million shares, including more than 41 million shares from Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg worth about $2.3 billion. Zuckerberg's sale, partly to pay a tax bill, will reduce his voting power to 56.1 percent from 58.8 percent.

Target Corp said hackers might have stolen data from some 40 million credit and debit cards of shoppers who visited its stores during the first three weeks of the holiday season in the second-largest such breach reported by a U.S. retailer. The stock slid 2.2 percent to $62.16.

Dish is considering a bid for T-Mobile US next year, according to people close to the matter, in what would be the satellite TV provider's second attempt at acquiring a major wireless operator. Dish shares rose 1 percent to $55.85, while T-Mobile gained 7.5 percent to $29.30.

Darden Restaurants said it would sell or spin off its Red Lobster business, buckling under pressure from activist investor Barington Capital Group after reporting another quarter of sliding profits. Darden shares dropped 5.1 percent to $50.22.

In economic news, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest in nearly nine months while home resales fell to the lowest in nearly a year. On the upside, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's index of factory activity rose slightly in December.

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