* Gilead climbs after Merck’s hep C drug trial results
* McDonald’s sales fall in October
* Dow off 0.05 pct, S&P up 0.01 pct, Nasdaq off 0.08 pct (Updates to market open)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Nov 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Monday, as investors paused in the absence of major market catalysts after the Dow and S&P 500 advanced for a third straight week to fresh record highs.
Earnings season begins to wind down this week, with 16 S&P 500 companies expected to report quarterly results, including retailers Wal-Mart and Macy’s and network equipment maker Cisco Systems.
“We have had a nice run and last week we did see the markets largely go into neutral and take a bit of a pause,” said Peter Kenny, chief market strategist at Clearpool Group in New York.
“Earnings season is coming to a close, there are no economic data releases for the next two days, we’ve gotten more or less the framing for the market.”
McDonald’s Corp rose 0.3 percent to $95.35 after its worldwide sales at restaurants open at least 13 months fell 0.5 percent in October but still beat expectations.
Gilead Sciences rose 2.1 percent to $108.70 as the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 after data from a midstage study showed Merck’s attempt to shorten hepatitis C treatment to just four weeks by adding Gilead’s huge selling Sovaldi to its own oral two-drug combination came nowhere near the desired efficacy. Merck shares were down 2.7 percent to $57.73 as the biggest drag on the Dow and S&P.
Thomson Reuters data showed that of 442 companies in the S&P 500 to report earnings, 74.2 percent beat expectations, above the 63 percent beat rate since 1994 and 67 percent for the past four quarters. Earnings are expected to grow 9.8 percent over the year-ago period.
The Dow gained 7.3 percent while the S&P 500 was up 7.7 percent over the past three weeks, the best three-week performance for both indexes since October 2011.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 8.67 points, or 0.05 percent, to 17,565.26, the S&P 500 gained 0.26 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,032.18 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.52 points, or 0.08 percent, to 4,629.01.
Alibaba Group shares were up 1.5 percent at $116.26 ahead of “Singles Day” in China on Nov. 11, which has become the largest day of online sales in the world.
Toll Brothers Inc, the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder, reported a 29 percent jump in quarterly revenue as housing demand strengthened. Its shares rose 2.8 percent to $33.12, lifting the PHLX housing index 1.1 percent.
GoPro shares fell 2.7 percent to $76.90 after the company filed a common stock offering of up to $800 million.
Editing by Bernadette Baum