* U.S. consumer sentiment picks up in late Oct-survey
* Merck, Chevron earnings top Wall St estimates
* Stocks off: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct
NEW YORK, Oct 28 U.S. stocks edged lower on
Friday as investors took a breather from a powerful rally that
propelled the S&P to close above its 200-day moving average
for the first time since August.
On Thursday, the market soared 3 percent after a
long-awaited agreement was struck to help contain Europe's
two-year debt crisis. The S&P 500 is up more than 13 percent
this month, on pace for its biggest monthly gain since October
But investors remained skeptical over the debt deal as
many details were still to be worked out before the region can
show its ability to contain the crippling crisis.
"The rally really started even before we got the news from
Europe. There is a strong (upside) bias in the market and
people are acting on that basis," said Stanley J.G. Crouch, who
oversees $2 billion as the chief investment officer of Aegis
Capital in New York.
"But I think we have a long way to go with this (European
debt) mess. I still see huge risks," he said.
The head of Europe's bailout fund played down hopes of a
quick deal with China to throw its support behind efforts to
resolve the crisis but said he expects Beijing to continue to
buy bonds issued by the rescue fund.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 21.64
points, or 0.18 percent, at 12,186.91. The Standard & Poor's
500 Index was down 5.93 points, or 0.46 percent, at
1,278.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 11.62
points, or 0.42 percent, at 2,727.01.
The latest economic data showed U.S. consumer sentiment
improved in October for the second month in a row as
consumers felt more upbeat about the economy's prospects.
In earnings news, shares of Merck & Co Inc rose
1.8 percent to $34.93 after the No. 2 U.S. drugmaker reported
quarterly profit and sales that beat estimates.
Chevron Corp , the second-largest U.S. oil company,
said quarterly earning more than doubled, topping expectations,
but The stock was off 0.4 percent at $108.58.
Shares of MF Global Holdings Ltd fell 6.3 percent to
$1.34. Some customers are moving money from from the futures
brokerage, rivals, hedge fund officials and analysts said,
though the extent of the outflows is unclear.