NEW YORK, Nov 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Monday, with investors mostly taking a pause following a sharp rally on Friday, though the S&P 500 inched up to a new intraday record.
Equities have been strong of late, with the Dow last week posting its biggest weekly gain since January 2013 and the S&P coming off its biggest two-week jump since December 2011. The Nasdaq closed at its highest since March 2000.
The gains have largely come on the back of strong quarterly results, which have eased concerns over how corporations are faring in an uncertain growth environment, as well as stimulative actions from central banks.
“The bull market may be old and wrinkly, but it is still alive and there’s nowhere else for investors to really go besides U.S. equities,” said Paul Schatz, president and chief investment officer at Heritage Capital in Woodbridge, Connecticut.
While the market’s momentum is to the upside, near-term trading may be quieter as earnings season draws to a close. With results in from 70 percent of companies, 75.8 percent reported earnings above analysts’ expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, well above the long-term average of 63 percent.
“For the first time in a long time, I do not believe that a rising tide will lift all ships,” Schatz said. “We’re now at a stage where rallies will get narrower and narrower, meaning sector selection is key.”
General Motors Corp fell 1.3 percent to $30.98 after October sales missed expectations.
In deal news, Sapient Corp rose 42 percent to $24.66 and was among the most actively traded Nasdaq names after Publicis agreed to buy the digital ad company for $3.7 billion in cash.
Covance Inc jumped 26 percent to $100.46 after Laboratory Corp of America Holdings agreed to buy the company for $6.1 billion. Laboratory Corp fell 7 percent to $101.68.
The U.S. manufacturing sector slowed in October to its lowest rate of growth since July, while a gauge of new orders hit its lowest level since January, according to financial data firm Markit.
At 9:50 a.m. (1450 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average fell 14.96 points, or 0.09 percent, to 17,375.56, the S&P 500 gained 0.26 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,018.31 and the Nasdaq Composite added 11.35 points, or 0.25 percent, to 4,642.09. The S&P hit a new record of 2,020.04 in early trading.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,453 to 1,303, for a 1.12-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,204 issues fell and 1,110 advanced for a 1.08-to-1 ratio.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 54 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 55 new highs and 13 new lows. (Editing by Nick Zieminski)