* Caterpillar stock up after three days of declines
* S&P 500 dips after eight straight sessions of gains
* Bargain hunters snap up Apple following recent drop
* Dow down 0.1 pct, S&P 500 down 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 eased slightly on
Monday after an eight-day run of gains, while the Nasdaq edged
higher as Apple shares rebounded.
The index remained above 1,500, however, after closing above
that level on Friday for the first time in more than five years.
The S&P 500's eight sessions of gains was its longest winning
streak in eight years.
Caterpillar shares helped cap losses in the Dow
industrials even as the company posted a 55 percent drop in
quarterly profit due to a charge connected with accounting fraud
at a Chinese subsidiary and weak demand among its dealers.
Caterpillar's shares, down 2.2 percent in the past three
sessions, rose 2 percent Monday to $97.45.
"I think this multi-year high is really something that's in
play both for shorter-term traders and with folks with money on
the sidelines," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at
BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
Bargain hunters lifted Apple after the tech giant's
stock dropped 14.4 percent in the previous two sessions. With
Apple's stock up 2.3 percent at $449.83, the iPad and iPhone
maker regained the title as the largest U.S. company by market
capitalization as Exxon Mobil fell 0.7 percent to $91.11
and slipped back to second place.
On the down side, Boeing fell 1.4 percent to $74 on
worries about the potential hit from delays in its 787
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 14.05
points, or 0.10 percent, at 13,881.93. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 2.78 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,500.18.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.59 points, or 0.15
percent, at 3,154.30.
Investors poured $55 billion in new cash into stock mutual
funds and exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly
inflow on record, research provider TrimTabs Investment Research
"What we have seen this year is, it appears the individual
investor is allocating some 401(k) money to equities. Hopefully
that's a decision that will be with us for a while," Hellwig
Data on Monday pointed to growing economic momentum as
companies sensed improved consumer demand.
U.S. durable goods orders jumped 4.6 percent in December, a
pace that far outstripped expectations for a rise of 1.8
percent. Pending home sales, however, unexpectedly dropped 4.3
percent. Analysts were looking for an increase of 0.3 percent.
Corporate earnings so far have mostly been stronger than
expected. Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 150 companies
in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 67.3 percent
have beaten analysts' expectations, which is a higher proportion
than over the past four quarters and above the average since
Stocks have also gained support from a recent agreement in
Washington to extend the government's borrowing power. On
Monday, Fitch Ratings said that agreement removed the near-term
risk to the country's 'AAA' rating.
Hess Corp shares shot up 6.1 percent to $62.48 after
the company said it would exit its refining business, freeing up
to $1 billion of capital. Separately, hedge fund Elliott
Associates is looking for approval to buy about $800 million
more in Hess stock.