US stocks slightly rise pushing Dow to fresh record

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose, reaching an all-time closing high and headed toward its biggest annual gain since 1996.

The Dow added 26 points, or 0.2%, to 16504, setting a record for the 51st time this year. The index has climbed in nine of the past 11 sessions.

The S&P 500 fell less than 1 point to 1,841.07 at 4 p.m. in New York. The benchmark index is poised for a 29% increase this year, its biggest annual gain since 1997. The Dow extended its rally for the year to 26%.

Trading activity was light as the year approached an end, and analysts say activity should remain subdued until next week. About 4.4 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, 28% below the three-month average.

“Everyone is holding their breath until the end of the year so they can mark their performance,” said Ron Florance, deputy chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank, which manages $170 billion. “Its been such a phenomenal year on the equities side, and the beginning of a painful process for the fixed-income side.”

Pending home sales increased 0.2% on Monday, the first gain in six months, after a 1.2% drop in October that was larger than initially reported, the National Association of Realtors said, exceeding analysts predicitons.

European markets pulled back slightly following the recent string of gains. The Stoxx Europe 600 slipped 0.2%. On Friday, the index rose for a sixth consecutive session to close at a 5-year high.

Germanys DAX 30 index lost 0.4%, ending the year with a 25.5% gain. The U.K.s FTSE 100 gave up 0.3% Monday and Frances CAC 40 finished the session little changed.

In Asia, most markets rose in the last full day of trading in 2013 for many countries. Tokyos Nikkei Stock Average climbed 0.7% to its highest close in six years, sealing a 57% gain for the benchmark this year. Australias S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6% and was up 15% in the year to date, while Chinas Shanghai Composite lost 0.2% and was down 7.6% for the year to date.

In corporate news, Twitter slumped 5.1% to $60.51. The social-networking company on December 27 fell the most since it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange after Macquarie Capital downgraded the shares, saying they had risen “too far, too fast.” The stock had almost tripled through December 26 since its November 6 IPO.

Facebook declined 3.1% to $53.71. Shares of the social-networking company have plunged 7.3% since reaching a record on December 24. Facebook is poised for its biggest monthly gain since September, rallying 14% in December.

Crocs surged 21% after announcing over the weekend that Blackstone Group would invest $200 million in the footwear company, giving Blackstone a 13% ownership stake in Crocs.

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