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Nasdaq ends brief post-holiday session at 13-year high

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Dow and the S&P 500 dipped in thin holiday trading on Friday, but technology stocks helped lift the Nasdaq to a 13-year high.

Nicoli Babino works at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange November 29, 2013. Traders traditionally bring their kids to work for the half day of trading on the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Nasdaq got a boost from the technology sector, with Apple AAPL.O up 1.9 percent at $556.07, Microsoft Corp MSFT.O up 1.4 percent at $38.13 and Amazon Inc AMZN.O up 1.8 percent at $393.62.

“It’s almost as if people are rotating into the bigger blue-chip names, especially the technology big caps. We wouldn’t be shocked at all to see the small and mid-cap names lag a little bit,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist with Schaeffer’s Investment Research, in Cincinnati.

But with the both the S&P and Dow on an eight-week winning streak, investors may be cautious in adding new positions.

“We expect, and we recommend to our clients, that if they have exceeded their strategic allocation to equities, to take profit at these levels,” said Paul Mangus, head of equity research and strategy for Wells Fargo Private Bank, in Charlotte, N.C.

Volume was light, with slightly over 2 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data, as many U.S. investors remained out following the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. The U.S. stock market ended its regular session three hours early at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT).

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 10.92 points or 0.07 percent, to end at 16,086.41. The S&P 500 slipped 1.42 points or 0.08 percent, to finish at 1,805.81. But the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 15.136 points or 0.37 percent, to close at 4,059.886.

Retail stocks were in focus as the holiday shopping season gets under way. Many stores opened on Thanksgiving for the first time ever this year, but stores had to resort to steep discounts and shoppers appeared to be making careful purchases.

The S&P retail index rose 0.3 percent. Among some of the most active retail names, Target Corp TGT.N declined 0.8 percent to $63.93, Best Buy Co Inc BBY.N jumped 2.4 percent to $40.55, and J.C. Penney Co JCP.N gained 1.1 percent to $10.19.

In the health-care sector, CVS Caremark Corp CVS.N shares gained 0.3 percent to $66.96 after Wednesday's news that CVS will buy drug infusion services provider Coram LLC for $2.1 billion. The transaction will let CVS Caremark bolster its pharmacy benefits management business by offering cost-effective delivery of specialty drugs.

Editing by Jan Paschal