* Trading volume lower than usual due to holidays, snowstorm
* In wake of QE taper, Fed's Plosser dusts off inflation
* Hertz stock hit 52-week high on Icahn purchase report
* Indexes mixed: Dow 0.1 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq 0.3 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Jan 3 U.S. stocks were mixed by the
afternoon on Friday, erasing earlier gains, as lower-than-usual
volume and comments from Federal Reserve speakers made trading
Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, a voting member
of the Fed's monetary policy committee this year, said the Fed
faces "immense" challenges now that it has reduced bond-buying,
and needs to be cognizant of a rapid rise in future inflation.
He said the central bank's balance sheet is still growing at "a
fairly rapid clip" despite the $10-billion reduction in monthly
asset purchases, which started this month.
The market is still awaiting Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's
remarks at 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) in Philadelphia.
"I don't think Bernanke will say anything market moving
today. The market will stay steady today, gearing up for next
week," which will be filled with economic reports and the start
of fourth-quarter earnings season, said Peter Cardillo, chief
market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.
Major U.S. stock indexes were on track to end the week lower
after Wall Street began the new year with a broad decline.
Trading volume was low as market participants remain out of the
office due to the New Year's holiday-interrupted week and after
a snowstorm that caused more than 2,000 U.S. flight delays and
cancellations, paralyzed road travel, and closed schools and
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22.67 points or
0.14 percent, to 16,464.02, the S&P 500 lost 0.35 points
or 0.02 percent, to 1,831.63 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 12.166 points or 0.29 percent, to 4,130.903.
On their first day of trading in 2014, U.S. stocks suffered
their worst decline since Dec. 11 as investors booked profits in
the wake of the S&P 500's best yearly advance since 1997, with
many of last year's strongest performers down on the day.
Shares of Hertz hit a 52-week high of $29.79 on
Friday after CNBC reported that activist investor Carl Icahn
purchased 30 million to 40 million shares of the car rental
business, citing sources familiar with the situation. The stock
was up 0.5 percent at $28.82 by the afternoon session.
Cybersecurity company FireEye Inc has acquired
Mandiant Corp, the computer forensics specialist best known for
unveiling a secretive Chinese military unit believed to be
behind a series of hacking attacks on U.S. companies. FireEye
shares jumped 34 percent to $55.18.
The PHLX semiconductor index edged down 0.3 percent,
weighed down by a 2.8 percent drop in Micron Technology Inc
to $21.06 after RBC lowered its rating on the stock to a
"sector perform" from "outperform."
Twitter shares gained 2.5 percent to $69.22. Shares
in the social media company burst out of the gate in 2014 with a
gain of more than 6 percent.
Investors will monitor automakers on Friday as they report
vehicle sales for December. Chrysler Group LLC reported a 6
percent gain last month in U.S. auto sales, its best December
since 2007, but still narrowly missed analyst expectations.
Ford Motor Co shares were flat at $15.44 and General
Motors Co slumped 3 percent to $39.70 after posting their