US stocks close almost flat for 3rd straight session

August 30, 2012 | 08:05
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US stocks see-sawed in more light, noncommittal trade Wednesday to close almost flat for the third straight session, amid fresh data that sent more mixed signals on the economy.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on August 21. US stocks see-sawed in more noncommittal trade Wednesday to close almost flat for the third straight session, with fresh data sending more mixed signals on the economy. (AFP Photo/Spencer Platt)

After adding 0.3 percent in the early afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up just 4.49 points (0.03 percent) at 13,107.48.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 1.19 (0.08 percent) at 1,410.49, while the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 4.05 (0.13 percent) to 3,081.19.

"Today's lackluster session saw equities hover within points of the unchanged line for the majority of the day. Economic data was mostly positive, but did little to inspire investor confidence," said analysts.

On the positive side, second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth was revised upward to 1.7 percent from 1.5 percent, and data on pending home sales in July was strong.

But the Federal Reserve's Beige Book survey of regional economies, a key input into policy decisions, gave a slightly less buoyant picture of growth since the prior report in July.

"This report lacks any signs of substantial pick-up in economic activity, especially on the employment market," said economist Julien Thomas of Natixis.

Health benefits manager WellPoint rose 7.7 percent after its chief executive resigned, under pressure from shareholders disappointed with the company's performance under her leadership.

Menswear chain Jos. A. Bank Clothiers added 16.4 percent after it beat expectations reporting a 13.4 percent climb in its fiscal second-quarter profit.

Coca-Cola shares dropped 1.4 percent after its 29 percent-owned Australia subsidiary Coca-Cola Amatil warned that sales in its Australasia region were being challenged by weak consumer spending.

Online review website Yelp leaped 22 percent as the lock-up period for early and inside investors to sell their shares post-IPO expired.

That bucked the trend, highlighted by Facebook's experience, in which lock-up expirations result in share price falls.

Bond prices slipped on the GDP data. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.65 percent from 1.63 percent Tuesday, while the 30-year yield rose to 2.77 percent from 2.74 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.


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