US STOCKS-S&P 500, Dow flat but Nasdaq rises on tech stocks

by Reuters
Monday, 19 August 2013 17:21 GMT

* Intel and Apple rally, lifting tech shares

* Saks posts second-quarter loss, sales weak

* JPMorgan falls on investigation, financial shares fall

* Dow, S&P 500 down 0.1 percent, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Dow stock gauges were little changed on Monday, with investors reluctant to make new bets because the Federal Reserve is expected to begin slowing its stimulus, while the Nasdaq composite index rose on large-cap technology shares.

Nasdaq rose as tech shares were the strongest sector. The index received the strongest boost by Apple Inc , up 1.8 percent to $511.40.

The Fed's policy of buying large amounts of bonds in an attempt to keep interest rates low has been credited with fueling the stock market's solid gains in 2013. But many analysts expect that to change at the Fed's September policy meeting.

With little expected this week in the way of economic indicators, market participants are focused on the minutes from the July Fed meeting, due on Wednesday, for possible insights into policymakers' thinking.

Growing concerns about a pullback in the program contributed to the Dow's largest weekly drop in more than a year last week. In the bond market, the U.S. benchmark 10-year note yield rose to a two-year high.

Trading volume has been light in recent sessions because of uncertainty over the Fed and few catalysts for investors, who have kept to the sidelines in most sessions. The S&P 500 has moved in a range of about 3.5 percent between lows and highs over the past month.

"Short-term momentum continues to be to the upside, but the low volume suggests there's little conviction that could take us up out of the range we've been in," said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.

"The September meeting is the next big catalyst, and until then there's nothing that should significantly move the needle."

Apple's stock extended recent gains, rising to $511.40.

Intel Corp rose 2.5 percent to $22.46 as one of the biggest percentage gainers on the S&P. Piper Jaffray upgraded the Dow component and boosted its price target on the stock.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 13.21 points, or 0.09 percent, at 15,068.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2.14 points, or 0.13 percent, at 1,653.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 11.89 points, or 0.33 percent, at 3,614.67.

Financial shares were weaker, dropping 0.8 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co fell 1.8 percent to $52.33 after a person familiar with the matter said the bank was the target of federal bribery investigation into whether it hired the children of to Chinese officials to help win business.

Bank of America Corp fell 1.2 percent to $14.25 while Citigroup Inc lost 1.8 percent to $49.42.

Saks Inc reported a second-quarter loss and same-store sales that were below expectations. The company's stock was almost unchanged at $16. The company is in the process of being acquired by Hudson's Bay for $16 per share.

Zillow shares fell 4 percent to $87.58 after the company announced a stock offering and said it agreed to buy New York real estate website StreetEasy for $50 million.

Supernus Pharmaceuticals jumped 11 percent to $7.36 after the company said it will soon launch an epilepsy drug after having received final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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