* Dow ends at second straight record high
* Oracle rallies after results; Red Hat up late
* U.S. jobless claims near 9-month high; home resales slide
* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P 500 down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq off 0.3 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks finished mostly
flat on Thursday as investors paused after a rally in the
previous session, though the Dow closed at its second record
high in a row.
The Nasdaq declined slightly on weakness in tech shares,
though its loss was limited by a rally in Oracle Corp
shares a day after the company's results.
Despite that, trading volume was below average. Many
investors have already locked in their gains for the year ahead
of the coming holidays. About 5.53 billion shares traded on all
U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data.
"There's a lot of transparency in the market, but most of
the noise has been made," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth
strategist at Premier Wealth/First Allied Securities in New
York. "We should expect to continue seeing light volume and not
Wednesday's rally came after the Federal Reserve announced a
plan to trim its monthly bond purchases by $10 billion to $75
billion, beginning in January. The statement was accompanied by
a dovish indication of rock-bottom interest rates for the
foreseeable future, a combination that gave the Dow and the S&P
500 their largest daily gains in two months.
Oracle's stock jumped 5.8 percent to $36.60 a day after the
No. 2 software maker reported earnings that beat expectations
and gave a bullish revenue outlook. The stock was the S&P 500's
biggest percentage gainer.
Red Hat Inc shares jumped 8.2 percent to $53 in
extended-hours trading following the company's third-quarter
results, which were released after the bell. The stock had ended
the regular session at $49, up 0.2 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.11 points,
or 0.07 percent, to finish at 16,179.08, a record closing high.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dipped 1.05 points, or
0.06 percent, to end at 1,809.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index
shed 11.93 points, or 0.29 percent, to close at
The Dow reached an all-time intraday high of 16,194.72
during the session, while the S&P 500 moved within 3 points of
setting a new high. Both indexes are up more than 20 percent
this year, with the rally largely fueled by the Fed's
accommodative monetary policies.
Facebook shares fell 0.9 percent to $55.05 after the
social network company announced the offering of 70 million
shares, including more than 41 million shares from Chief
Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, worth about $2.3 billion.
Zuckerberg's sale, partly to pay a tax bill, will reduce his
voting power to 56.1 percent from 58.8 percent.
Among other tech names, Adobe Systems shares fell
1.5 percent to $58.13. Texas Instruments lost 1.5
percent to end at $42.46, weighing on the Nasdaq.
Target Corp said hackers might have stolen data from
some 40 million credit and debit cards of shoppers who visited
its stores during the first three weeks of the holiday season in
the second-largest such breach reported by a U.S. retailer. The
stock slid 2.2 percent to $62.15.
In the deals arena, Dish is considering a bid for
T-Mobile US next year, according to people close to the
matter, in what would be the satellite TV provider's second
attempt at acquiring a major wireless operator. Dish rose 1
percent to $55.83, while T-Mobile gained 8.7 percent to $29.61.
Darden Restaurants said it would sell or spin off
its Red Lobster business, buckling under pressure from activist
investor Barington Capital Group after reporting another quarter
of sliding profits. Darden's stock dropped 3.6 percent to
In economic news, the number of Americans filing new claims
for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest in
nearly nine months, while home resales fell to the lowest in
nearly a year. On the upside, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve
Bank's index of factory activity rose slightly in December.
About 56 percent of the shares traded on the New York Stock
Exchange closed lower, while about 60 percent of the issues
traded on the Nasdaq ended down.