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US STOCKS-Wall St flat after retail sales, Nasdaq edges higher

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Mon, May 13, 2013 16:50 hrs

* Core U.S. retail sales rise 0.5 percent in April

* Yum Brands falls as monthly Chinese sales drop

* Crude oil falls, pressuring energy companies

* Indexes: Dow down 0.2 pct, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, May 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were mostly flat on Monday as investors paused following a rally that took indexes to record highs, though a strong read on retail sales limited declines and the Nasdaq ticked up on a rally in Netflix.

The S&P 500 has jumped more than 14 percent so far this year, a rally that has repeatedly taken it to record intraday and closing highs without sustained declines. While the long-term trend is still viewed as positive, many analysts said the momentum could wane in the absence of positive catalysts.

Retail sales rose 0.1 percent in April, better than the 0.3 percent drop that had been expected, and returning to growth following a decline in March.

Excluding autos, gasoline and building materials, core sales rose 0.5 percent. Retail sales account for about 30 percent of U.S. consumer spending.

"Recent data has been weak, so to see some sturdiness is important and needed in order for us to move materially higher," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia. "But given the strength we've had over the past few weeks, it isn't surprising that trading is a bit indifferent today."

The S&P 500 managed its third straight weekly gain last week, reaching a record high on Friday. The benchmark had a five-day streak of record closing highs before settling lower on Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 24.04 points, or 0.16 percent, at 15,094.45. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.41 points, or 0.09 percent, at 1,635.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 8.40 points, or 0.24 percent, at 3,444.99.

Netflix Inc jumped 4.2 percent to $226.81 as one of the biggest advancing stocks in the S&P 500, helping to keep the Nasdaq in slightly positive territory.

Other data showed business inventories were unchanged in March for a second straight month versus expectations of 0.3 percent rise, suggesting restocking could help second-quarter economic growth.

Crude oil fell 0.7 percent to $95.39 per barrel, pressured by a drop to an eight-month low in demand in China.

Luschini, who helps oversee $58 billion in assets, said the drop in oil and gasoline prices contributed to the strong read on retail sales, "so it is helpful to see those remain tame.

"However, if we dip below $90 a barrel, that will hurt the energy sector and could be a signal of lower global growth."

Consol Energy fell 2 percent to $34.14 while National Oilwell Varco was off 1.4 percent at $67.27.

Yum Brands Inc fell 2.6 percent to $68.54. After the market closed on Friday, the fast food chain operator posted a steep decline in Chinese April sales.

With 90 percent of the S&P 500 having reported, 67.2 percent of companies have topped earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, an amount that is even with the average over the past four quarters. Only 46.9 percent have beaten revenue expectations, under the 52 percent average over the past four quarters.

Elan agreed to a $1 billion deal to buy 21 percent of the royalties that U.S. company Theravance receives from GlaxoSmithKline for its respiratory drugs. Theravance shares jumped 15 percent to $40.33.

U.S.-listed shares of Perion Network surged 12 percent to $14.10 after the Israeli consumer Internet company posted first-quarter earnings.

SoftBank Corp has told banks that their financing of Dish Network Corp's $25.5 billion rival offer for Sprint Nextel Corp could hurt their chances of landing a role in a highly anticipated public offering of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, two sources familiar with the situation said.

Sprint shares dipped 1.6 percent to $7.24 while Dish lost 1.7 percent to $38.51.




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