* Burger King profit jumps, shares follow
* Herbalife shares soar after Icahn discloses ownership
* Dow up 0.04 pct, S&P off 0.01 pct, Nasdaq up 0.03 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Feb 15 U.S. stocks were little changed
on Friday and the S&P 500 remained on track for a seventh week
of gains after upbeat consumer sentiment data, as equities
continued a phase of consolidation after a strong start to the
The S&P 500, up nearly 7 percent so far this year, is facing
strong technical resistance near the 1,525 level. But investors,
expecting the index to advance further in the quarter, have held
back from locking in profits.
"The market has run awfully hard on a year-to-date basis and
certainly some consolidation, a couple of percentage points of
pullback, is probably at hand, probably healthy and is probably
where we are," said Jim Russell, senior equity strategist for
U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati.
Data released Friday illustrated the bumpy road the U.S.
economic recovery continues to take.
The New York Federal Reserve said manufacturing in New York
state expanded for the first time in seven months, while Thomson
Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary reading of consumer
sentiment rose from the prior month and beat expectations.
But data also showed U.S. manufacturing fell in January
after a rise in the prior month.
"We are at a point where the macro news will continue to be
a two-steps forward, one-step back kind of progression, with
most of the news showing a firmness, but an occasional data
point that will represent a step back," Russell said.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 5.07 points,
or 0.04 percent, to 13,978.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
shed 0.20 points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,521.18. The
Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.02 points, or 0.03
percent, to 3,199.68.
The benchmark S&P 500 is on track to register its seventh
straight week of gains by the close of trading Friday, a feat
not seen since a run of consecutive weekly gains between
December 2010 and January 2011.
A surge in merger and acquisition activity, with more than
$158 billion in deals announced so far in 2013, has given
further support to the equity market as it points to healthy
valuations and bets on the economic outlook.
Herbalife shares jumped 13.1 percent to $42.27 a day
after billionaire investor Carl Icahn said in a regulatory
filing that he now owns 13 percent of Herbalife and was ready to
put it in play.
MeadWestvaco Corp climbed 10.6 percent to $35.04 as
the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P index after activist
investor Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management LP said in an SEC
filing it had bought about 1.6 million shares of the packaging
Burger King Worldwide shares gained 2.4 percent to
$16.98 after it beat estimates with a 94 percent rise in
fourth-quarter profit, thanks to new menu additions.
Oil service stocks declined, weighed by a 5.8 percent drop
in shares of Transocean to $55.89, after the rig
contractor reported its fleet update and Deutsche Bank cut its
rating on the stock to "sell." The PHLX oil service sector
lost 1.9 percent.