* New-home sales well short of expectations
* Microsoft climbs after announcing CEO Ballmer's retirement
* Indexes up: Dow 0.03 pct, S&P off 0.12 pct, Nasdaq up 0.27
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Aug 23 U.S. stocks inched higher on
Friday as trading resumed without interruption a day after the
Nasdaq stock exchange suffered an unprecedented, three-hour
Microsoft rose 5.9 percent, giving the Nasdaq
composite index its biggest lift, after Microsoft Chief
Executive Steve Ballmer announced he will retire.
After a technological problem shut down trading in Nasdaq
securities on Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Robert
Greifeld said the Nasdaq resolved the technical issues that led
to Thursday's trading halt but cannot guarantee there would be
no future problems.
Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months, once
Microsoft chooses a successor. The stock traded at $34.31 a
Even with the Nasdaq outage on Thursday, the S&P 500 managed
to register its biggest percentage gain since Aug. 1, but was
unable to close above its 50-day moving average for a fifth
straight session. The mark, now at 1,659.34, has become a
"We've got the 50-day (average) right there. We are all kind
of still catching our breath after yesterday's flash freeze,"
said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's
Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"The Microsoft news got everybody a little excited and
caused some volume in tech, but that is only the main headline
The benchmark index is on pace for a slight gain for the
week after two consecutive declines, as investors exercise
caution amid uncertainty over how soon the Fed will begin to
wind down its $85 billion a month stimulus program.
The next Fed monetary policy meeting is scheduled for Sept.
Economic data showed sales of new single-family homes in
America fell by 13.4 percent in July to an annual rate of
394,000 units, well below expectations of 490,000 units.
The data weighed on homebuilder stocks, with PulteGroup
down 1.8 percent to $16.02 and Toll Brothers off
2.6 percent to $31.61. The PHLX housing sector index lost
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.42 points or
0.03 percent, to 14,968.16, the S&P 500 gained 1.95
points or 0.12 percent, to 1,658.91 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 9.867 points or 0.27 percent, to 3,648.575.
Pandora Media Inc slumped 12.3 percent to $19.04 after
the Internet radio service said late Thursday that rising
expenditures to acquire music and expand its sales force would
push fiscal 2014 earnings below analyst expectations.
Aeropostale Inc tumbled 20.4 percent to $8.74 after
the teen apparel retailer forecast a deep third quarter loss.