(By Balachander) U.S. stocks closed on a flat note amid corporate earnings reports and a mixed set of economic data.
The S&P 500 Index ended 0.18 percent lower at 1,500.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.10 percent to finish at 13,882.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.15 percent to close at 3,154.30.
On the domestic data front, durable-goods orders for December jumped 4.6 percent, topping economists expectations of an increase of 1.8 percent. New orders - excluding transportation - also gained 1.3 percent, while expectations were for a 0.7 percent rise. Durable-goods orders measures the change in the total value of new orders for long lasting manufactured goods.
Another report showed pending home sales fell 4.3 percent last month after a 1.6 percent increase in November.
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Other economic reports of interest due to be released over the week include: ADP's jobs report, the FOMC's minutes, nonfarm payrolls, jobless claims and personal spending.
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Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) posted a 55 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit hit by a goodwill impairment charge of $580 million. Sales and revenue fell 7 percent. The maker of construction and mining equipment also guided 2013 slightly below consensus. Shares rose 1.96 percent.
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Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) is due to post its quarterly results after the market closes. The Internet giant is expected to earn 28 cents a share on revenue of $1.21 billion for the fourth quarter. Shares closed 0.29 percent lower.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) gained 2.92 percent. Raymond James upgraded rating on shares of the social-networking giant to "outperform" from "market perform".
Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) gained 2.59 percent after the biotechnology reported its quarterly numbers. The company posted a fall in quarterly earnings as higher cost and expenses offset revenue growth and it issued forecast for 2013.
Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES) jumped 6.08 percent. The energy company said it will pursue the sale of its terminal network and complete its exit from the refining business. Elliott Associates may seek to acquire additional Hess shares valued at more than $800 million.
PetSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM) lost 9.08 percent. Nomura downgraded the stock to "reduce" from "neutral".
Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. (NASDAQ: JOSB) tumbled 15.11 percent after the casual clothing company forecast a 20 percent drop in earnings for 2012, citing higher marketing expenses and lower gross margin.
AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS) slumped 7.43 percent. Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to "sell" from "neutral".
Furiex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: FURX) surged 66.38 percent after the company confirmed that its partner Takeda Pharmaceutical has received approval from the U.S. health regulators for a new treatment.
European markets ended mixed, with Germany's DAX off 0.32 percent to close at 7,7833. France's CAC40 advanced 0.07 percent to finish at 3,780.89. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.16 percent to end at 6,294.41.
Asian markets closed mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index up 2.41 percent to close at 2,346.51. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.94 percent to finish at 10,824.31. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.39 percent to end at 23,671.88. India's BSE Sensex ended nearly flat at 20,103.35.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures rose 0.60 percent to $96.46 per barrel while natural gas futures dropped 4.79 percent to $3.28 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures fell 0.14 percent to $1,656.40 per ounce while silver futures shed 0.96 percent to $30.90 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro slid 0.07 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3454. The British pound fell 0.68 percent against the greenback to 1.5692, and the dollar slipped 0.13 percent against the Japanese yen to 90.7900.