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US STOCKS-Wall St flat on Fed stimulus uncertainty; BlackBerry slumps

Luke Swiderski
Monday, 4 Nov 2013 | 12:22 PM ET

* U.S. factory orders data released

* BlackBerry abandons sale plans, to replace CEO

* S&P up 0.1 pct, Dow down 0.08 pct, Nasdaq up 0.16 pct

NEW YORK, Nov 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were little changed on Monday, with shares of Blackberry plummeting to a 10-year low as the day's biggest loser, amid uncertainty over the longevity of the Federal Reserve's massive stimulus measures.

U.S.-listed shares of Blackberry tumbled 13.8 percent to $6.70 a share after the smartphone maker said it was abandoning a plan to sell itself and instead, would replace its chief executive officer. With Monday's drop, the stock is at levels unseen since October 2003.

The quiet start to the week follows a week of record highs for U.S. stocks, and it remains to be seen whether the market can push higher, with much dependent on the steps the Federal Reserve will take in the months ahead in response to economic data. The Fed's massive bond purchases have helped prop up the economy and the equity market for much of the year.

"Honestly there's not a lot of news - we are catching our breath," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

The benchmark S&P index has risen 4.3 percent over the past four weeks as the partial U.S. government shutdown in October pushed back expectations for the Fed to begin curtailing its stimulus measures into the first quarter of 2014.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.42 points, or 0.08 percent, to 15,603.13, the S&P 500 gained 1.73 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,763.37 and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.193 points, or 0.16 percent, to 3,928.236.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told CNBC television the Fed should not rush a decision to scale back its asset purchase program because of low inflation.

But recent manufacturing data has been stronger than expected, lending weight to the argument that the economy may be sturdy enough to handle an earlier-than-expected reduction in the central bank's bond-buying program.

Factory orders rose 1.7 percent in September, in line with consensus expectations, after an unexpected dip of 0.1 percent in August, data released on Monday showed.

Kellogg Co advanced 1.5 percent to $63.24 after the cereal maker reported a 3 percent rise in quarterly profit, and said it would slash 7 percent of its workforce by 2017.

With about 75 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported results so far, 69 percent have topped Wall Street's expectations, above the long-term average of 63 percent, while just 53 percent have topped revenue forecasts, below the 61 percent average since 2002, Thomson Reuters data showed.

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