Markets Fall Flat After Week-Long Rally

By Tanya AgrawalMarketsReuters

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were little changed on Friday, while the Dow continued to march towards 20,000, a level it has never breached.

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The Dow was 103 points away from the historic mark and on track for its sixth weekly gains, after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the second time in nearly a decade earlier this week.

The Fed sees three rate hikes next year instead of the two foreseen in September, partly as a result of the expected economic benefits under President-elect Donald Trump.

U.S. stocks have been on a tear since the Nov. 8 presidential election, with the S&P rising 5.7 percent on bets that Trump's plans to deregulate sectors and increase infrastructure spending will boost the economy.

"We're at a point where there's not much to factor in," said Mohannad Aama, managing director at Beam Capital Management in New York.

"You had the Trump rally and then you had the anticipation about what the Fed was going to say. For the next two weeks we have somewhat of an aimless market where people are getting ready to close the books for the year."

However, there are some concerns that the "Trump rally" may have gone too far too soon and that valuations are stretched. The S&P 500 is trading at 17.9 times forward 12-month earnings, above the 10-year median of 14.7 times, according to StarMine data.

The strengthening dollar has also stoked concerns about its impact on companies with overseas exposure. The dollar index , which measures the currency against a basket of currencies, is trading near a 14-year high.

At 11:04 a.m. ET (1604 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial average was up 44.94 points, or 0.23 percent, at 19,897.18.

The S&P 500 was up 0.99 points, or 0.04 percent, at 2,263.02.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 4.55 points, or 0.08 percent, at 5,461.40.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the real estate index's 0.66 percent rise leading the gainers.

The energy index gained 0.45 percent as oil prices edged closer to new 17-month highs after producers showed signs of adhering to a global deal to reduce output.

Oracle declined 2.5 percent to $39.82 after the business software maker's adjusted revenue missed analysts' estimates.

Chipotle Mexican Grill rose 2.2 percent to $390.76 after the company, under pressure from activist investor Bill Ackman, appointed four more members to its board.

Agios Pharma slumped 20.6 percent to $44.50 after the drugmaker withdrew its investigational new drug application.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,949 to 846. On the Nasdaq, 1,819 issues rose and 871 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 21 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 128 new highs and 18 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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