US STOCKS-Wall St trades flat, still on track for weekly gains

Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:17pm EST

* Dow on track for best two-week period since June 2012

* Twitter shares slide after massive rally

* Textron to buy Beechcraft for $1.4 billion in cash

* Nasdaq down 0.2 pct, Dow, S&P 500 flat,

By Curtis Skinner

NEW YORK, Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes barely budged on Friday, taking a break from this week's rally that has repeatedly pushed stocks to all-time highs as investors close out a stellar year for equities.

Shares of Twitter Inc, the social media company that has nearly tripled in value since going public in early November, slid 8 percent to $67.34 by early afternoon as investors took profits. The stock, however, is still up about 12 percent for the week. Twitter was among the most actively traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Nasdaq, a tech-heavy index, was down 0.3 percent, with leaders like Apple off slightly. The Nasdaq has surged 38 percent this year, making it the best performer among the three major U.S. stock indexes.

"I think you are just seeing some people take profits off the table here. I think it's normal market behavior at the end of the year," said Robert Francello, head of equity trading for Apex Capital in San Francisco.

Volume overall was light, as it has been all week, with no economic data and many participants out for the rest of 2013.

A bright spot came from the telecom sector. Sprint Corp shares jumped 7.7 percent to $10.73 and topped the NYSE's most-active list, following speculation that a deal by Japan's SoftBank Corp to acquire U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile US is closer to getting done. SoftBank is considering the possibility of having Sprint, which it recently acquired, take a majority stake in T-Mobile, according to sources close to the matter. Sprint's stock earlier hit a 52-week high at $11.46.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 6.67 points, or 0.04 percent, at 16,473.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.89 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,841.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 10.33 points, or 0.25 percent, at 4,156.85.

For the week, the Dow has gained about 1.6 percent, the S&P 500 has added about 1.2 percent and the Nasdaq has advanced about 1.2 percent.

Equities have been on a tear lately, with the Dow climbing to its sixth straight record closing high on Thursday, the longest daily streak of gains for the blue-chip average since March.

Both the Dow and the S&P 500 are on track for a second straight week of solid gains. The S&P 500 is set to post its best two-week period since July, while the Dow is expected to mark its best two weeks since June 2012.

The S&P 500 has soared 29.1 percent this year, on track for its best year since 1997, in part due to the Fed's stimulus. The Dow has gained 25.8 percent in 2013.

Traders said they did not expect another record year next year, but noted that more investors could adopt a more aggressive stance, given the success in equities and the strengthening economy.

"I don't think it's realistic to expect another 25 percent up year in the S&P or the Dow, but we have seen a tremendous move in the markets," said Randy Billhardt, head of capital markets at MLV & Co in New York.

In company news, Textron Inc agreed to buy aircraft maker Beechcraft Corp for $1.4 billion in cash. Textron shares rose 1.5 percent to $36.74.

General Motors Co's China joint venture will recall close to 1.5 million vehicles because of potential safety issues in one of the biggest recalls in the world's biggest auto market. GM's stock fell 1.2 percent to $41.03.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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