Dow ends at record high; Nasdaq loses grip on 4,000

Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) November 21, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Luke Swiderski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Dow industrials eked out a slim gain on Monday to end at another record high, after the Nasdaq topped 4,000 for the first time in 13 years and then slipped to close below that level.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT) shares rose 0.8 percent to close at $80.43, off an all-time intraday high of $80.57 after the world's largest retailer said it has chosen its next chief executive. The stock was among the Dow's best performers.

Energy stocks slipped following a deal to reduce sanctions on oil producer Iran. The S&P energy sector index (CME:^SPNY) fell 0.8 percent.

Social media shares dropped in volatile trading.

Volume is expected to remain low this week, ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

"Retailers are taking focus this week. Black Friday is coming up, so there will be obviously some positioning ahead," said Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas, referring to the hectic day just after Thanksgiving that's regarded as the start of the holiday shopping season.

The agreement between world powers and Iran to partially curb Iran's nuclear program was seen as bolstering positive sentiment, even though it may not increase Iran's oil exports. U.S. crude oil fell 75 cents, or about 0.79 percent, to settle at $94.09 a barrel.

Despite the pressure on the energy sector, the deal with Iran was viewed as having positive benefits for the market at large.

"Less tension in the Middle East is always a positive, and any drop in gas prices will essentially act as a tax break for consumers going into the holiday shopping season," said Jeff Duncan, chief executive of Duncan Financial Management in St. Louis. "This is a real benefit for the economy."

Notable social media stocks fell, with Facebook (FB.O) breaking through a technical support level at $45.80. Facebook shares slid 3.1 percent to close at $44.82. Yelp shares (YELP.N) fell 6.7 percent to $58.20. Twitter shares (TWTR.N) lost 4.7 percent to end at $39.06.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 7.77 points or 0.05 percent, to end at 16,072.54, another nominal record closing high. Earlier, the Dow hit yet another all-time intraday high at 16,109.63. But the S&P 500 (^GSPC) dipped 2.28 points or 0.13 percent, to finish at 1,802.48.

The Nasdaq Composite Index (^IXIC) added 2.924 points or 0.07 percent, to close 3,994.573. Earlier, the Nasdaq touched an intraday high at 4,007.093 - its first moved above 4,000 in 13 years. But the Nasdaq pulled back in late trading.

Healthcare and financial stocks were the day's winners, with the S&P healthcare sector index (.SPXHC) rising 0.4 percent and the S&P financial sector index adding 0.1 percent.

In contrast, Boeing (BA) shares fell 2.2 percent to $133 after the company advised airlines on Friday about the risk of engine icing problems on its new 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner planes. Shares of General Electric (GE), which makes the engines, dropped 1.3 percent to $26.73.

The U.S. stock market could still go higher, some analysts said, even though the S&P 500 is up 26.4 percent for the year and the Dow has risen seven weeks in a row.

"Not surprisingly, many investors are asking whether this sets us up for some type of pullback. In our view, the answer is a resounding 'No.' While these results are excellent, especially in the context of weak economic and earnings growth, they are hardly out of the ordinary," said Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. market strategist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry and Jan Paschal)

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