* Services-sector growth slightly slower than forecast
* Transocean shares rise after results, Apple up on iPad
* Dow off 0.1 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Nov 5 The Dow and the S&P 500 edged
lower in light trading on Monday, a day before the U.S.
presidential election as traders were reluctant to take
positions until the winner of the close race is known.
Democratic President Barack Obama and his challenger,
Republican Mitt Romney, dashed through a handful of swing
states, stumping for votes on the last day of the campaign for
the White House.
Investors were also monitoring congressional races to gauge
how the United States will deal with the $600 billion in
spending cuts and tax hikes that could kick in next year and
severely damage the economy.
On election eve, traders sat tight before placing bets on
sectors likely to benefit under the election's victor.
"Given this huge event is so close, now it just makes sense
to wait," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris
Private Bank in Chicago.
"I guess, academically, you could convince yourself a
president doesn't generally doesn't have that much influence
over the economy near-term, but the fact remains, they could
impact the market."
Leading world economies pressed the United States on Sunday
to act decisively to avert the fiscal cliff, calling it the
biggest short-term threat to global growth.
The market's reaction was muted to data showing the pace of
growth in the U.S. services sector slowed modestly in October.
Data from the Institute for Supply Management showed new orders
slipped, but employment improved.
Market participants may also have to deal with interpreting
economic data that could soon start to show the impact of
Hurricane Sandy on the economy after battering the U.S.
Northeast last week.
The S&P utilities index, down 1.7 percent, was the
worst performing of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors a week after
Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City and the surrounding area.
Close to 2 million people still have no power as cold weather
sets in. On Sunday, 30,000 to 40,000 people in New York City
were in need of shelter.
The utilities index is down 2.6 percent since trading
reopened on Oct. 31.
The sector also felt the weight of a 2.6 percent drop in
Southern Co shares to $44.56 after Southern, which is the
No.2 U.S. power company when ranked by market value, posted
third-quarter earnings. [I D :nL3E8M54N6]
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 10.48
points, or 0.08 percent, to 13,082.68. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index shed 1.02 points, or 0.07 percent, to 1,413.18. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 4.50 points, or 0.15
percent, to 2,986.61.
Apple Inc rose 0.4 percent to $579.15 to help lift
the Nasdaq after the company said it had sold 3 million of its
new iPads in the first three days.
Transocean Ltd , which operates the world's
largest offshore oil drilling fleet, reported a
higher-than-expected adjusted profit for the third quarter. Its
stock gained 4.7 percent at $48.23.
Stifel Financial Corp shares gained 1.7 percent to
$32.45. Shares of KBW Inc climbed 7.2 percent to $17.47
after Stifel said it would buy the smaller rival in a
cash-and-stock deal valued at about $575 million to form an
investment bank focused on the financial services industry.
BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc surged 29.5 percent to
$48.43 after the company said a late-stage trial of its
experimental genetic disorder drug met the main goal of
improving patients' walking ability when administered weekly.
The rally in BioMarin's shares helped push the Nasdaq biotech
index up 1.4 percent.
A private survey of China's growing services sector showed
the services index slipped in October, with weaker-than-expected
new orders injecting a note of caution after three previous PMI
surveys for October showed the world's second-largest economy
The euro zone's debt crisis also remained an issue for
investors, as a senior European Union official said a deal to
keep near-bankrupt Greece afloat by providing more bailout money
is unlikely to be struck next week when euro-zone finance
ministers meet in Brussels.