US stocks flat ahead of holidays


The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 13.78 points at 11,478.13

Low trading volumes and a lack of economic reports kept US stocks flat on Monday.

Indexes finished mixed and bond yields were barely changed.

American Express Co had the largest move of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones industrial average. The card issuer fell 3.4 % to 42.50 dollars after Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the company. New rules proposed by the Federal Reserve could limit fees the company charges merchants.

Aloca Inc led the Dow index with a 1.4 % gain to 14.77 dollars.

The Dow fell 13.78, or 0.1 %, to 11,478.13. The Standard and Poor’s 500-stock index rose 3.17, or 0.3 %, to 1,247.08. The Nasdaq composite index gained 6.59, or 0.3 %, to finish at 2,649.56.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond rose slightly to 3.34 from 3.33 % late on Friday.

Stocks have been rising strongly in December. The Dow has gained 4.3 % so far this month and the S&P has hit seven new annual highs since December 8.

Investors have been encouraged by improving economic data on retail sales, consumer confidence and factory production, as well as policy changes that will benefit stockholders.

President Barack Obama signed a bill last week that will keep Bush-era income tax cuts in place for another two years. The law will also extend favourable tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

“The markets … made quite a run,” said Stephen Carl, principal and head of equity trading at the Williams Capital Group. But the tax cuts “can only go so far,” Carl said, and are unlikely to continue sending stocks higher.

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