* Consumer confidence index tops expectations
* Marvell Technology climbs after KKR reports stake
* Berkshire Hathaway to buy unit from Phillips 66
* Dow up 0.3 pct, S&P 500 up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
By Curtis Skinner
NEW YORK, Dec 31 U.S. stocks advanced modestly
on Tuesday, boosted by a solid consumer confidence reading,
keeping the S&P 500 on track for its best year since 1997 and
the Dow on pace to record its best performance since 1995.
The S&P 500 is up 29.5 percent for the year and all
10 sector indexes will end the year in positive territory. The
Dow is up 26.3 percent in 2013, as investors rode the
Federal Reserve's extraordinary stimulus and the expectations
for improved growth in a year that had only the slightest of
The Fed recently announced it will trim its monthly bond
purchases in response to an improving economic picture, but that
has still not deterred equities.
The Nasdaq is up 38.1 percent for the year, setting
the technology-heavy index up for its best yearly performance
Trading volume was once again light with U.S. markets closed
Wednesday for the New Year's holiday. With many traders away,
the thin volume could make for greater volatility.
The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of
consumer confidence rose to 78.1 from an upwardly revised 72.0
in November and above the expected 76.0 reading.
"The market was kind of flat until the pieces of economic
data came out, none of which were particularly exceptional, but
it seemed to drive more buying," said Stephen Massocca, managing
director at Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.
Data earlier in the day showed that the S&P/Case-Shiller
composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas gained
0.2 percent in October from September, but posted the strongest
annualized gain in October in more than seven years.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 49.36 points or
0.30 percent, to 16,553.65. The S&P 500 gained 5.27
points or 0.29 percent, to 1,846.34. The Nasdaq Composite
added 17.09 points or 0.41 percent, to 4,171.29.
For the month, the Dow is up 2.9 percent, the S&P 500 has
gained 2.2 percent and the Nasdaq has risen 2.7 percent.
Twitter Inc appeared to turn the corner on its
steep two-day losing streak, posting gains of 6.7 percent to
$64.58 at midday. The stock's price had tumbled 17 percent
between Thursday and Monday.
Marvell Technology Group Ltd jumped 5.6 percent to
$14.54 after private equity firm KKR & Co LLP reported a
6.8 percent stake in the chipmaker, according to a regulatory
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc struck a
deal for around $1.4 billion of stock to buy a Phillips 66
business that makes chemicals to improve the flow
potential of pipelines. Phillips 66 shares shot up 2.9 percent
to $76.90, off a 52-week high of $77.19.
Hertz Global Holdings Inc surged 7.7 percent to
$27.91 after the company said it had adopted a one-year
shareholder rights plan in response to "unusual and substantial
activity" it has observed in its shares. Hertz
was among the most actively traded New York Stock
Exchange-listed companies by midday.