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Wall Street flat as Oracle takes air out of Alibaba debut

US stocks closed little changed today after Alibaba's strong debut was offset by falling technology shares as Oracle and Yahoo stumbled, but the Dow managed to edge higher to set a record for a second straight session.

Alibaba took the spotlight after its initial public offering priced at $68 a share and rose as high as $99.70 before ending the session up 38 percent to $93.89. Shares of Yahoo , which is selling part of its Alibaba stake but will remain a top shareholder, were volatile in heavy volume and closed down 2.7 percent at $40.93.

But technology shares weighed on the S&P 500 with Oracle down after Larry Ellison, co-founder and leader for 37 years, stepped aside as chief executive. He will be replaced by co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd, raising questions about a job-sharing arrangement that has had a mixed record elsewhere.

Oracle shares lost 4.2 percent to $39.80 as the biggest drag on the S&P 500 while the S&P technology index was the worst performing of the 10 major S&P sectors.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 13.75 points, or 0.08 percent, to 17,279.74, the S&P 500 lost 0.96 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,010.40, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 13.64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,579.79.

Volume was heavy, with about 8.68 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, well above the 5.71 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets. Aside from Alibaba, volume also received a boost from "quadruple witching," the expiration of futures and options for indexes and stocks.

Among the most active stocks on the NYSE were Alibaba, Coca-Cola Co, up 0.62 percent to $42.05, and Bank Of America, down 0.53 percent to $16.95.

On the Nasdaq, Yahoo, Microsoft, up 1.8 percent to $47.52 and Sirius XM, down 1.8 percent to $3.57 were among the most actively traded.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,824 to 1,180, for a 1.55-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,796 issues fell and 951 advanced for a 1.89-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 75 new 52-week highs and 9 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite had 88 new highs and 117 new lows.

In Europe, ehe FTSEurofirst 300 index touched its highest level in more than six years today after Scotland voted against independence, but trimmed gains in late trading on profit taking and on speculation about a downgrade of France.

The CAC 40 fell 0.1 percent, with traders citing speculation that a major credit rating agency was going to cut France's rating.

The French share index underperformed the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300, which ended 0.3 percent higher at 1,401.53 points after hitting a 6-1/2-year peak.

Britain's FTSE 100 index also closed up 0.3 percent, although off its intra-day highs.

Broadly, the market got support after Scotland spurned independence in a referendum that would have split the United Kingdom, potentially triggering financial turmoil.

Spain's IBEX rose more than 1 percent in early trading as markets viewed Scotland's "No" vote as having reduced prospects of a stronger push for Catalonia breaking away. But the index ended the day just 0.1 percent higher, as the broader market trimmed gains.

The northern Spanish region of Catalonia, accounting for a fifth of Spanish economic output, is a wealthy region with its own language and culture. Its long-standing independence movement has grown over the last decade, fuelled by the economic crisis and a refusal by Madrid to meet regional demands.

Among standout gainers, British lender Royal Bank of Scotland rose 2.5 percent on relief following the Scottish vote.

On the downside, Germany's SAP fell 3.8 percent, making it among the top losers in the FTSEurofirst 300 index, on concerns over a price tag of $7.3 billion in cash it would pay to buy US company Concur.

Meanwhile, Japanese stocks soared to a seven-year high after the yen dropped sharply after Scottish voters rejected a bid for independence and averted a break-up of the United Kingdom. Afternoon comments by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to carry out pension reform as soon as possible bolstered already upbeat sentiment.

The Nikkei share average ended 1.6 percent higher at 16,321.08, the highest closing level since 2007 and before the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It was the biggest daily percentage gain in a month, and was up 2.3 percent for the week. During the session, the index easily topped a December 30 high of 16,320.22.

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Tags:  US  stock market  Europe  Nikkei  Scotland  Spain  independence  





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