* Men's Wearhouse launches hostile bid for Jos. A. Bank
* Twitter shares slide after downgrade
* Ford boosts China sales, roars past Toyota and Honda
* Indexes: Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq off 0.3
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Jan 6 U.S. stocks were little changed
on Monday after data showed the pace of growth in the services
sector slowed for a second straight month in December while new
orders for U.S. factory goods rebounded in November.
Technology stocks kept the benchmark S&P 500 flat after a
Morgan Stanley downgrade of the whole sector. Notes on Twitter
and eBay weighed on shares of both companies
and Apple shares were also lower.
Globally, service industry growth slowed sharply in China in
December but picked up across most of Europe, suggesting that an
uneven global economic performance persists.
A separate report from financial data firm Markit showed
U.S. private sector economic activity growth slowed slightly in
Traders are still second-guessing the Federal Reserve's take
on economic data and how it might alter the U.S. central bank's
plan to withdraw its stimulus, said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief
investment officer at OakBrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois.
"On balance today's data is not going to raise concerns the
Fed may accelerate the taper," he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30.25 points or
0.18 percent, to 16,500.24, the S&P 500 gained 1.89
points or 0.1 percent, to 1,833.26 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 10.337 points or 0.25 percent, to 4,121.569.
RBC Capital Markets raised its year-end target on the S&P
500 to 2,075, about 13 percent above current levels, citing a
"slower, extended economic recovery" which will provide support
for stocks throughout the year.
Icy conditions snarled travel across the U.S. Midwest and
thousands of flights were canceled or delayed over the weekend,
as forecasters warned that life-threatening cold was heading
"This cold weather front is likely to impact economic
activity somewhat," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist
at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
Liberty Media said Friday it would offer to buy out
the minority shareholders in satellite radio provider Sirius XM
. Sirius shares jumped 7.3 percent to $3.83.
Apparel retailer Men's Wearhouse mounted a hostile
bid for rival Jos. A. Bank Clothiers with a raised
offer, days after the smaller rival raised its buyout defenses.
Men's Wearhouse shares gained 3.3 percent to $52.24 and Jos. A
Bank added 4.1 percent to $56.64.
Twitter shares fell 6.1 percent to $64.76 after being
downgraded at Morgan Stanley. The stock had surged nearly 70
percent in the past six weeks.
Morgan Stanley cut eBay to neutral weight, sending its
shares down 3.7 percent to $51.31.
Ford Motor Co and its local partners boosted sales in
China by nearly 50 percent last year, nudging past Japanese
giants Toyota and Honda to make big inroads
into the world's largest auto market. Ford shares rose 1.2
percent to $15.70.
Solar panel shares were in focus. ReneSola rose 3.9
percent to $4.23 after it secured a contract to supply solar
panels to a solar project developer based in Japan; SolarCity
was up 11.2 percent to $65.91 after Goldman Sachs added
it to its "conviction buy" list.
The U.S. Senate is set to vote at 5:30 p.m. (2230 GMT) to
confirm Janet Yellen as the next head of the Federal Reserve.
Yellen has been the central bank's vice chair since 2010 and is
widely seen as continuing the policies set in place by current
chair, Ben Bernanke.