US stocks end flat as investors take breather

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks on Monday ended little changed as investors took a breather after last week's hefty gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.45 points (0.05 per cent) to 15,392.20.

The broad-based S&P 500 increased 0.16 (0.01 per cent) to 1,744.66 while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 5.77 (0.15 per cent) at 3,920.05.

Monday's tepid performance came on the heels of last week's rally following a US budget deal late on Wednesday that ended a partial government shutdown and an agreement on the debt ceiling that averted a default. All three stock indices ended the week solidly higher, with the S&P 500 notching a new record.

"Obviously the market has made some nice gains," said Mr Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. Stocks "will probably pull back a little bit from an overbought situation." Mr Cardillo said that so far the quarter's earnings reports have exceeded expectations, but he cautioned that revenue growth remains weak.

Investors are looking ahead to Tuesday's release of September jobs data, which had been delayed from Oct 4 due to the partial government shutdown.

Dow component McDonald's fell 0.6 per cent after third-quarter results showed weak performance in some regions, such as China, Japan and Australia.

The company said the currently restrained economic environment "continues to pressure results." General Electric jumped 2.3 per cent after some positive analyst reactions to Friday's earnings report. Citi added the industrial giant to its "US Focus List," citing "lots" of near-term catalysts, such as the company's bullish comments on profit margins.

AT&T, also in the Dow, jumped 1.8 per cent after announcing a US$4.9 billion deal with Crown Castle related to the sale of 600 AT&T wireless towers and the leasing of 9,100 other towers. Crown Castle fell 1.7 per cent.

Tech icon Apple rose 2.5 per cent ahead of a Tuesday San Francisco event that is expected to launch new iPad devices.

Another tech heavyweight, Facebook, dipped 0.7 per cent after suffering a technical glitch that prevented some of its 1.15 billion users from posting status updates. Facebook acknowledged a "brief" outage and said it had been resolved.

Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury rose to 2.62 per cent from 2.59 per cent on Friday, while the 30-year increased to 3.68 per cent from 3.66 per cent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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