US STOCKS-Wall St little changed after best two-day run in three years

Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:33pm GMT

Quotes

   

* Brent holds above $60 a barrel

* Indexes: Dow down 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Friday after the market's best two-day run in more than three years, with shares of Nike weighing on the Dow while energy shares led a modest advance on the benchmark S&P 500.

The S&P 500 index had climbed 4.5 percent over the previous two sessions, spurred by the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment to take a "patient" approach toward raising interest rates, while signaling it was on track to boost rates in 2015. That provided clarity and relief to investors over the policy outlook, analysts said.

Brent crude oil advanced above $60 a barrel on Friday, recovering from near a 5-1/2-year low, while WTI crude climbed 3.3 percent to $55.90.

The benchmark stock index has risen more than 3 percent this week, putting the S&P on track for its best weekly performance in two months. It has erased nearly all the losses from the prior week, which were spurred by a sharp drop in oil prices.

Shares of Nike shed 2.8 percent, a day after the company flagged slowing growth in western Europe.

At 1:16 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.64 points, or 0.07 percent, to 17,765.51, the S&P 500 gained 2.58 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,063.81 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.18 points, or 0.15 percent, to 4,755.57.

Quadruple witching - the expiration of stock options, index options, index futures and single-stock futures - may add to the day's volatility, along with the rebalancing of the S&P 500, which is scheduled to take effect after the close.

Shares of Red Hat surged 10.9 percent after it raised its profit forecast for the full year and reported quarterly revenue and profit that beat expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,780 to 1,258, for a 1.41-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,389 issues rose and 1,265 fell for a 1.10-to-1 ratio.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 102 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 94 new highs and 35 new lows. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)