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Stocks Drift Between Gains, Losses

Stocks Drift Between Gains, Losses

08/27/2014

 By Alexandra Scaggs 

U.S. stocks ended a quiet Wednesday session little changed, while the S&P 500 made a small advance to another record close.

The S&P 500 index tacked on 0.10 point, less than 0.1%, to 2000.12, its 31st record this year. The index closed above 2000 for the first time Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 15.31 points, or 0.1%, to 17122.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged down 1.02 points, less than 0.1%, to 4569.62.

Stocks drifted between slight gains and losses for much of the session. Trading was the slowest for any full session this year, with the Dow trading in its third-narrowest range this year, and moving just 44 points between its high and low. The S&P 500 traded in its seventh-smallest range this year.

"Volumes are incredibly light," said Ian Winer, director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities. But after a dismal summer for trading, "people are just wondering whether that matters... it's less of a powerful [sentiment] indicator than it might have been in years past."

There was little economic news on the calendar, so investors instead eyed the latest corporate news and high-profile deals.

Shares of a handful of retailers were bolstered by strong quarterly reports. Retailers have struggled this year, with the SPDR S&P Retail exchange-traded fund up 1.6% to the broader market's 8.2% advance.

"The industry has been under a dark cloud for so long," said Lawrence Creatura, who manages $702 million in the Federated Clover Small-Cap Value fund. "Expectations are practically subterranean... [but] even industries that are under pressure can be mispriced, and that seems to be where we're at with some retailers."

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