US STOCKS-Wall St ends flat in short session, Dow ekes out record close

miércoles 24 de diciembre de 2014 14:21 GYT

* Initial jobless claims fall for fourth straight week

* Biotech shares rebound after sharp two-day decline; energy falls

* Dow, S&P 500 move less than 0.1 percent, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct (Updates to midday trading)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Dec 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks closed flat in a short session on Wednesday as investors found few reasons to push major indexes to their sixth straight day of gains despite strength in biotechs and bullish labor market data.

While both the S&P 500 and Dow touched intraday records, and the Dow closed at a slight record, the day's moves were slight and volume was light with many market participants already out for the Christmas holiday.

In a session that ended three hours early, about 2.5 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data, well below the month-to-date average of 7.66 billion. Markets will reopen Friday.

Equities have been on a hot streak of late, with the Dow closing above 18,000 for the first time ever on Tuesday. The S&P 500 rose 5.5 percent over the past six sessions and has notched 51 closes this year, the most since 1995 and the fourth best in history.

Those gains have come on central bank assurances and improving economic data, a trend that continued with jobless claims on Wednesday. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000, their fourth straight week of declines, and below the forecast of 290,000.   Continuación...