US STOCKS-Wall St rally eases as year-end in view

* Manufacturing, job and housing data beat expectations

* Anadarko gains on buyout report

* Indexes off: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.2, Nasdaq 0.1

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]

(Updates market activity, changes byline)

By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK, Dec 30 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) edged lower on
Thursday as the recent rally and light volume left investors
reluctant to take on much more risk before the new year.

After a 6.5 percent rally this month even a series of
better-than-expected economic reports was not enough to spark
buying activity on the penultimate trading day of the year.

Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook
Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois said investors will need to
see signs of an sustained improvement in the economy to keep
the rally alive next week.

“It will be interesting to see once we get past the holiday
season if this holds up,” he said, referring to government data
on Thursday that showed claims for jobless benefits fell to a
two-year low. “We are stuck in that very narrow range until we
start next year.”

Shares in Monster Worldwide Inc (MWW.N: ), an employment
agency, rose 3.6 percent to $24.48 after the data. The Dow
Jones U.S. business training and employment agencies index
(.DJUSBE: ) rose 0.8 percent.

In a sign of investor anticipation of increased merger
activity, Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N: ) jumped 5.8 percent to
$74.85 after the Daily Mail reported BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP.AX: )
(BHP.N: ) maybe lining up a $90 per share offer for the company.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) dropped 23.46
points, or 0.20 percent, to 11,561.92. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: ) fell 2.34 points, or 0.19 percent, to
1,257.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) lost 3.58 points,
or 0.13 percent, to 2,663.35.

The S&P 500 is on course to close out its best December
since 1991 when the index rose 11.2 percent.

Technical indicators such as the S&P 500’s relative
strength index and elevated levels of bullishness are leading
some investors to call for a pullback.

Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in
Jersey City, New Jersey said he expects equities to retreat in
February, confounding widespread expectations of a January
retreat.

“The common sense of the street is that we get pullback
after this Santa Claus rally and a very strong run up in the
S&P since August,” he said. “But I don’t think it will be in
early January because everybody is expecting it.”

Analysts said investors were leery of taking large
positions until next year, despite the positive data, as light
holiday trading volume, coupled with the recent run-up, left
the market more susceptible to volatile swings.

Data suggesting the economic recovery was gaining traction
had little impact.

New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits dropped 34,000 to
a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the Labor Department said, the
lowest reading since early July 2008. That was well below
economists’ expectations for 415,000. For details, see
[ID:nN30280758]

A report from the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago
showed activity in the U.S. Midwest jumped unexpectedly in
December, with help from a gain in employment and new orders.
(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

US STOCKS-Wall St rally eases as year-end in view