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December 20, 2014
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Wall Street ends flat after six-day rally, energy rises

US stocks ended a quiet session essentially unchanged as investors found few reasons to keep buying following a six-day rally in the S&P 500, though merger activity lifted energy shares.

The S&P was coming off its longest streak of advances since mid-April, and both it and the Dow had closed at records on Friday. While Wall Street's uptrend is still viewed as intact, investors are looking for catalysts to deliver more robust gains, and recent economic data has been mixed.

US May existing home sales rose at more than twice the rate of growth expected, while a preliminary read on June manufacturing hit its highest since May 2010. Other surveys of manufacturers gave positive signals for the global economic outlook, but dark clouds remained over Europe.

Energy shares were the day's strongest group, up 0.4 percent. Wisconsin Energy agreed to buy Integrys Energy Group Inc in a deal valued at $9.1 billion. Integrys was the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer, up 12.1 percent to $68.35, while Wisconsin fell 3.5 percent to $45.27.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 9.82 points or 0.06 percent, to 16,937.26, the S&P 500 lost 0.26 points or 0.01 percent, to 1,962.61 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.64 points or 0.01 percent, to 4,368.68.

European stocks fell as disappointing euro zone business surveys revived concerns about the pace of economic recovery in the region.

Shares of companies in which the French state owns significant stakes fell after Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg hinted at sales of some holdings to finance investment in Alstom .

EDF was the biggest loser among that group, sliding 2.9 percent.

Safran, Orange, Airbus and Thales also fell, all underperforming France's CAC 40 , which dipped 0.6 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed down 0.5 percent at 1,388.34 points, retreating from a 6-1/2 year high hit last week.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares edged up to a five-month closing high today after an upbeat survey on Chinese manufacturing activity added to the positive mood from the US Federal Reserve's dovish policy stance.

The benchmark Nikkei rose 0.1 percent to 15,369.28, its highest closing since Jan. 29. Trading was choppy, with some investors taking profits from recent gains as the Nikkei has risen almost 10 percent in just over a month from a low below 14,000 hit on May 21.

The broader Topix eased 0.1 percent to 1,267.48, with 1.96 billion shares changing hands, while the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 dropped 0.1 percent to 11,537.06.

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Tags:  Stocks  shares  FTSEurofirst  Nikkei  US  Dow Jones  





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