* New home sales well short of expectations
* Microsoft climbs after announcing CEO Ballmer's retirement
* Indexes: Dow off 0.2 pct, S&P off 0.12 pct, Nasdaq up 0.14
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Aug 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed
on Friday, a day after the Nasdaq stock exchange suffered a
historic trading halt of roughly three hours as a result of
Trading in thousands of U.S. stocks ground to a halt for
much of Thursday after an unexplained technological problem shut
down trading in Nasdaq securities, the latest prominent
disruption to the operations of U.S. markets.
Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld said on CNBC
television the Nasdaq resolved the technical issues that led to
Thursday's trading halt, but cannot guarantee there would be no
Microsoft Corp was the biggest boost to the three
major indexes, up 7.3 percent to $34.74 after the company said
Chief Executive Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12
months, once it completes the process of choosing his successor.
Even with the Nasdaq outage on Thursday, the S&P 500 managed
to register its biggest percentage gain since Aug. 1, but was
unable to close above its 50-day moving average for a fifth
straight session. The mark, now at 1,659.26, has become a
The benchmark index is on pace for a third straight weekly
decline, as investors exercise caution amid uncertainty over how
soon the Fed will begin to wind down its $85 billion a month
"This has been a very unique market situation with the Fed
stimulus being such an important component to the market rally.
This is uncharted waters for us," said Gordon Charlop, managing
director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
"So regardless of what the move is, the fact you are
someplace you haven't been before is cause for uncertainty."
The next Fed monetary policy meeting is scheduled for Sept.
Economic data showed sales of new single-family homes in
America fell by 13.4 percent in July to an annual rate of
394,000 units, well below expectations of 490,000 units.
The data weighed on homebuilder stocks, with PulteGroup
down 3.9 percent to $15.69 and Toll Brothers off
3.8 percent to $31.25. The PHLX housing sector index lost
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 29.95 points or
0.2 percent, to 14,933.79, the S&P 500 lost 2.07 points
or 0.12 percent, to 1,654.89 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 5.238 points or 0.14 percent, to 3,643.945.
Pandora Media Inc slumped 12.4 percent to $19.01 after
the Internet radio service said late Thursday that rising
expenditures to acquire music and expand its sales force would
push fiscal 2014 earnings below analyst expectations.
Aeropostale Inc tumbled 18.5 percent to $8.95 after
the teen apparel retailer forecast a deep third quarter loss.