US stocks open flat a day after hitting records

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks opened flat Thursday, a day after the Dow topped 20,000 points for the first time, as attention shifted to a trove of corporate earnings results.

Traders are weighing whether to take profits after the surge, but a "buy-the-dip" spirit is also present, analysts said.

A wide array of large companies, including in media, chemicals, autos and pharmaceuticals, released results in a peak week for fourth quarter earnings reports. The biggest movers included Ford and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which each lost more than two per cent.

"The reactions to the earnings reports and guidance has been mixed, which helps explain the lack of upside momentum in the futures market at this point," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up a hair at 20,070.16. The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.1 per cent to 2,297.18, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.1 per cent to 5,661.91.

Johnson & Johnson fell 0.7 per cent after announcing it was buying Europe's biggest bio-pharmaceutical firm, Switzerland's Actelion, for US$30 billion (S$42.5 billion).

The deal between the world's biggest producer of healthcare goods and Actelion, a leader in medicines treating high blood pressure, will create a new Swiss-listed firm called R&D NewCo focusing on the research and development of new drugs, the companies said in a joint statement.