July 28, 2014 / 7:20 PM / 3 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St near flat as deal news offsets housing data

* Dollar Tree offers to buy Family Dollar; deal valued at $9.2 bln

* June pending home sales unexpectedly fall

* Dow up 0.1 pct; S&P 500 up 0.05 pct;, Nasdaq off 0.04 pct (Updates to late afternoon)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, July 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks barely moved on Monday as the latest deal news offset losses following soft data on the housing market and services sector.

Dollar Tree Inc offered to buy rival discount chain Family Dollar Stores Inc for about $8.5 billion. The transaction, including debt, values Family Dollar at about $9.2 billion.

In other deal news, Zillow Inc agreed to buy Trulia Inc for $3.5 billion in stock in a deal that would combine the two most popular U.S. real estate website operators.

While acquisition activity limited the market’s decline, investors found few reasons to buy because of the data, which was among the latest to suggest that the economy’s momentum was slowing.

An index of pending home sales unexpectedly fell 1.1 percent in June, the National Association of Realtors said. The report followed an 8.1 percent drop of new home sales in June, the biggest slump in almost a year. The PHLX housing sector index declined 1.6 percent. Shares of D.R. Horton Inc, the No. 1 U.S. homebuilder, were down 1.4 percent at $21.30.

Activity in the U.S. services sector stayed at its highest level in 4-1/2 years in July, though readings for new business and employment growth weakened, according to financial data firm Markit’s preliminary data.

But the market may be hitting resistance as it hits key levels, with the Dow sitting just below 17,000 and the S&P 500 near 2,000.

“Technically, we are battling round numbers that I think give investors reason to pause,” said Todd Salamone, senior vice president of Research, Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.69 points or 0.12 percent, to 16,980.26. The S&P 500 inched up just 0.92 of a point or 0.05 percent, to 1,979.26. The Nasdaq Composite, though, dropped 1.70 points or 0.04 percent, to 4,447.86.

Family Dollar’s stock jumped 24.5 percent to $75.49. It was the S&P 500’s biggest percentage gainer. Dollar Tree gained 2.7 percent to $55.70.

Trulia’s shares shot up 18 percent to $66.50. Zillow’s stock rose 2.3 percent to $162.58.

El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc, a restaurant chain that went public late last week, leaped 28.4 percent to $30.87, continuing the rally from its trading debut on Friday.

Editing by Jan Paschal

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