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US STOCKS-Wall St flat with Dow and S&P near records

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Mon, May 06, 2013 14:10 hrs

* Dow, S&P coming off all-time closing highs

* Investors looking for next market catalyst

* BofA and Apple rally; Humana jumps after upgrade

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

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, May 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were flat on Monday as investors paused following a sharp rally that took major averages to record highs last week.

Equities have been strong so far this year, with the S&P 500 up more than 13 percent in 2013 on the back of strong corporate earnings and accommodating monetary policies that have kept interest rates low.

But with those factors largely priced into the market, many investors are looking for the next catalyst to take shares higher. Many analysts expect a correction, which markets have largely avoided this year as traders use weakness as an opportunity to add to positions.

"Everyone is settling in for the moment. We had a nice week last week and there are no real catalysts to move us significantly one way or the other today," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier/First Allied Securities in New York.

Weak economic data has recently underlined concerns over the global growth outlook, though Friday's payroll report was stronger than expected and fueled the gains that took the indexes to record levels.

A number of bellwether names rallied on Monday, with Bank of America Corp up 2.1 percent to $12.50 and Apple Inc up 2.2 percent to $459.75. Humana Inc jumped 3.4 percent to $76.45 as the S&P 500's top gainer after JPMorgan upgraded the stock to "overweight."

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 30.41 points, or 0.20 percent, at 14,943.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.07 points, or 0.00 percent, at 1,614.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.74 points, or 0.14 percent, at 3,383.37.

BMC Software Inc agreed to be acquired by a private equity group led by Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital Corp for about $6.9 billion. Shares dipped 0.3 percent to $45.27.

Overseas, European shares dipped 0.2 percent as investors took profits following a rally in the previous week. Volumes were light as London markets closed for a holiday.

Crude oil fell 0.4 percent after rising earlier, as investors bet that an Israeli air strike on a Syrian military facility would not have a major impact on Middle East oil supplies.

Tyson Foods Inc reported a steep drop in its second-quarter earnings, hurt as customers switched to chicken from beef to save money. The stock dropped 4.3 percent to $23.86, the biggest percentage decliner on the S&P 500.

Of the 404 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 68.3 percent have beaten earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, though only 46.3 percent have reported revenue above expectations. Over the past four quarters, 67 percent of companies beat on earnings and 52 percent beat revenue estimates.

Warren Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway , said on CNBC the U.S. economy was gradually getting better, aided by improvements in sectors like homebuilding.




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