US STOCKS-Wall Street barely changed in light trading

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 09, 2012 18:42 hrs

* MEMC shares rally after results

* Dean Foods to spin off unit, shares jump

* BoE cuts Britain's growth forecast

* France heading for recession in Q3

* Dow 0.1 up pct, S&P up 0.06 pct, Nasdaq flat

By Anna Louie Sussman

NEW YORK, Aug 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday in light trading, as there were few signals to push shares in either direction one day after the benchmark S&P 500 closed above 1,400 for the first time in more than three months.

Expectations for action from the European Central Bank and U.S. Federal Reserve triggered a recent rally in equities, with the S&P 500 up for five consecutive weeks. Economic data still points to lackluster demand worldwide, and European central banks are projecting poor growth for coming quarters.

"There's been a little bit of pullback, a little bit of profit-taking, but we don't really see a lot of action. There's not a lot of activity because of lack of economic numbers. You just don't see a lot of information to push through these resistance levels," said Stephen Carl, principal and head of U.S. Equity Trading at the Williams Capital Group LP.

Shares of Dean Foods, which is spinning off a unit, jumped 36.9 percent to $17.00 a day after the U.S. dairy company posted a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

The consumer discretionary sector was down 0.4 percent as fashion juggernaut Ralph Lauren and travel website Priceline both forecast slowing demand due to the global slowdown. Ralph Lauren shares fell 2.1 percent to $149.84. Priceline's stock plummeted 15.9 percent to $571.95.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 12.90 points, or 0.10 percent, at 13,181.50. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.88 points, or 0.06 percent, to 1,402.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.02 points, or 0.00 percent, to 3,015.84.

The Bank of England gave little indication that it would rush to pour in further stimulus even as it sharply cut its forecast for medium-term economic growth in Britain. France's central bank forecast a contraction in growth going into the third quarter, citing weak demand from the periphery and Britain.

Spanish benchmark 10-year yields briefly rose above 7 percent, underscoring the cautious tone from investors recently disappointed by lack of coordination from European officials in their efforts to reignite the economy.

Markets are pricing in the idea that it may take time until Spain asks for a bailout, which would open the door for ECB intervention.

Shares of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc rallied 16.5 percent to $2.40 after the silicon wafer maker reported a surprise quarterly profit on an adjusted basis.

Williams Partners shares dropped 4.2 percent to $50.84 after the energy infrastructure company announced the offering of 8.5 million common units.

More from Sify: