* Isis shares jump on drug results, Biogen up
* G Asset Management offers to buy Barnes & Noble or Nook
* Groupon shares tumble after forecasting loss
* Home resales fall to 18-month low in January
* Major indexes nearly unchanged
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 21 U.S. stocks were little changed
on Friday, with the S&P 500 facing resistance as it flirts with
its record high, as company news dominated trading amid another
soft reading on the economy.
Home resales in the United States fell more than expected in
January and hit an 18 month-low as the combination of cold
weather and a lack of housing stock sidelined potential buyers.
Traders continue to selectively dismiss weak economic data
which is being blamed on the extreme weather that has affected
large swaths of the U.S. territory.
An index of homebuilder stocks rose 1 percent and
could close at its highest since mid 2007.
Giving support to equities, data showed fund investors
worldwide poured a net $8.3 billion into funds that specialize
in U.S. equities in the week ending Feb. 19. Inflows into global
stock funds were $13.4 billion, the biggest in 12 weeks.
"You have very strong momentum and there's cash on the
sidelines," said Kevin Caron, market strategist at Stifel,
Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey.
He said softer data is being dismissed because of the
weather and, with the U.S. 10-year note yielding less than 3
percent, "equities are one of the few games in town."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 10.62 points or
0.07 percent, to 16,122.61, the S&P 500 gained 0.23
points or 0.01 percent, to 1,840.01 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 1.756 points or 0.04 percent, to 4,269.301.
All three indexes are gunning for a third week of advances,
and the S&P is within striking distance of its record close of
1,848.38 reached Jan. 15.
Shares of Isis Pharmaceuticals rose 13.6 percent to
$58 after the company said a mid-stage trial of its experimental
treatment for a rare spinal disorder showed that it increased
muscle function in children. Shares of Biogen, Isis'
partner in the drug's development, hit a record high on the
Priceline.com rose 3 percent as one of the S&P
500's biggest gainers, rising to $1,321.79 a day after reporting
results that beat expectations.
Hewlett Packard Co also reported results that topped
expectations, and the computer maker also raised its 2014 profit
view, though shares dipped 1.7 percent to $29.67.
Investment firm G Asset Management said it had offered to
take a 51 percent stake in either Barnes & Noble Inc or
in the bookseller's Nook digital books and device business.
Barnes and Noble shares rose 5.8 percent to $17.76.
Groupon shares tumbled 20.1 percent to $8.13 a day
after unexpectedly forecasting a quarterly loss, even as it
reported revenue that was ahead of expectations.
Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co
late Thursday forecast 2014 earnings in line with Wall Street
expectations and said it expects long-term earnings growth of up
to 20 percent per year. Shares fell 4.3 percent to $73.82.