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US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher, Amazon offsets GDP

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Wed, Jan 30, 2013 14:50 hrs

* Amazon rallies after results, Boeing ticks higher

* ADP tops forecasts, Q4 GDP unexpectedly contracts

* S&P 500 on track for best month since October 2011

* Fed to conclude meeting, no change in policy seen

* Indexes: Dow flat, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Jan 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were flat on Wednesday as an unexpectedly weak read on fourth-quarter economic activity was offset by strong results at Boeing and Amazon.com.

Equities continued to shrug off negative news, with the S&P 500 staying above 1,500, a level that market technicians call an inflection point that will determine the overall direction in the near term.

The first read showed gross domestic product fell 0.1 percent, far below expectations for growth of 1.1 percent. However, private sector employment topped forecasts, with the ADP National Employment report showing 192,000 jobs added in January, higher than the 165,000 expectation.

"The GDP report is the only negative shock we've had in a while, and it isn't terrible since it showed increases in business and consumer spending, which is what everyone wants to drive growth from here," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

Deeper losses were prevented by a rise in both Boeing Co and Amazon.com Inc, which rallied after earnings beat expectations, continuing a trend this quarter of high-profile names advancing after results.

Amazon.com Inc rose 6.7 percent to $277.87 a day after reporting strong revenue growth. Boeing rose 0.5 percent to $74 after its results. The Dow component also said that while production continued on its Dreamliner jet, which has had technical problems recently, it was suspending delivery until clearance was granted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 174 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings this season, 68.4 percent have been above analyst expectations, which is a higher proportion than over the past four quarters and above the average since 1994.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 5.50 points, or 0.04 percent, at 13,959.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.09 points, or 0.07 percent, at 1,508.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.73 points, or 0.18 percent, at 3,159.39.

The S&P 500 is on track to post its best monthly performance since October 2011 as investors poured $55 billion in new cash into stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly inflow on record.

The Dow Jones industrial average has been flirting with 14,000, a level it hasn't seen since October 2007. Many analysts have said markets may need to take a pause.

"I'm neutral on markets at these levels, even though there aren't a lot of negatives out there," Frederick said. "At some point there will be a pullback, but the underlying trends remain strong and I think it is possible the S&P could hit a new all-time high sometime this quarter."

The all-time intraday high for the S&P 500 is 1,576.09, reached Oct. 11, 2007.

The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day meeting on Wednesday, and while the central bank is expected to keep monetary policy on a steady path, intensive debates continue behind the scenes over when the controversial bond-buying program should be curtailed.

Chesapeake Energy Corp rose 11 percent to $21.11 as the S&P's biggest percentage gainer, a day after saying Aubrey McClendon would step down as chief executive after a year in which a series of Reuters investigations triggered civil and criminal probes of the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer.




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