US STOCKS-Wall St marks 4th week of gains; S&P slips

* Dow, S&P rise for fourth week in a row

* Retailers buoyed by Bed Bath & Beyond, Jo-Ann Stores

* Economic data mostly in line with expectations

* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P off 0.2 pct, Nasdaq off 0.2 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to close)

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, Dec 23 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) racked up a fourth
straight week of gains on Thursday, as investors expected
optimism about the economic recovery to support equities
through year-end.

The S&P 500 ticked lower on Thursday, the close of a
holiday-shortened week, breaking five days of gains, in the
lowest volume in a full-day session this year. Banks dragged on
the market, giving back recent gains after a strong month.

Some technical and sentiment indicators auger for a
near-term drop in stocks, but investors remain optimistic over
the long haul.

Keith Springer, president of Springer Financial Advisors in
Sacramento, California, said the market is more likely to trade
sideways than fall dramatically.

“A sideways move can work off an overbought condition,”
said Springer. “Just the fact that it slows down and moves
sideways is almost a corrective pattern for the stock market.”

Economic data was mixed. Consumer sentiment rose in
December to its highest level since June, and demand for
long-lasting manufactured goods surged. First-time claims for
jobless benefits edged down, but a rise in new home sales in
November came in below expectations. For details, see
[ID:nN23199992]

The KBW Bank index (.BKX: ) eased 0.9 percent following a
month-long rally that had boosted the index by 15.7 percent for
December.

Bank of America Corp (BAC.N: ) lost 2.4 percent to $13.06 and
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: ) fell 0.2 percent to $42.00.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) added 14.00 points,
or 0.12 percent, to 11,573.49. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index
(.SPX: ) edged down 2.07 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,256.77.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) eased 5.88 points, or 0.22
percent, to 2,665.60.

For the week, the S&P 500 was up 1 percent, the Dow gained
0.7 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.9 percent. It was the fourth
week of gains for the Dow and S&P and the fifth week of gains
for the Nasdaq.

The latest American Association of Individual Investors’
survey found bullish sentiment rose 13.1 percentage points to
63.3 percent, as of Dec. 23, a six-year high.

Volume was the lightest of the year with just 4.56 billion
shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American
Stock Exchange and Nasdaq as Wall Street prepared for a break
on Friday for the Christmas holiday.

Market watchers say the market is likely to see more upside
in the remaining five trading days of the year after a 6.5
percent gain for the month put the S&P 500 up 12.7 percent for
2010.

According to Birinyi Associates Inc, the market rallies 73
percent of the time from the close before Christmas Day to the
last close of the year for an average return of 1.34 percent.

Resource shares led the way up as the price of oil rose to
a more than two-year high above $91 a barrel. Chevron Corp
(CVX.N: ) rose 0.9 percent to $90.68.

Retail stocks got a boost as Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (BBBY.O: )
rose 5.1 percent to $50.10 after topping profit estimates and
forecasting a strong holiday season. [ID:nN2287296]

Fabric and crafts retailer Jo-Ann Stores Inc (JAS.N: ) surged
31.9 percent to $60.19 after it agreed to a buyout by private
equity firm Leonard Green & Partners for $61 per share.
[ID:nSGE6BM09Q]

The Morgan Stanley Retail index (.MVR: ) gained 0.5 percent.

Top U.S. memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc (MU.O: )
weighed on the Nasdaq. Its shares tumbled 4.1 percent to $7.94
after it forecast lower pricing for NAND chips, which are used
in smartphones and tablet computers. [ID:nN22114698]

About 4.56 billion shares traded on the New York Stock
Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, well below
last year’s estimated daily average of 9.65 billion.

Declining stocks slightly outnumbered advancing ones on the
NYSE by 1,529 to 1,422 , while on the Nasdaq, decliners beat
advancers 1,478 to 1,173.
(Editing by Leslie Adler)

US STOCKS-Wall St marks 4th week of gains; S&P slips