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US STOCKS-Wall Street stalls after rallying for five weeks

Luke Swiderski
Monday, 11 Nov 2013 | 3:05 PM ET

* Investors seek direction from data, Federal Reserve

* Bond markets shut for holiday, damping stock trading

* Friday's jobs data prompts more speculation about Fed tapering

* Dow up 0.1 pct; S&P 500 up 0.02 pct; Nasdaq flat

NEW YORK, Nov 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fluctuated between slight gains and losses on Monday after a five-week rally as investors waited for some direction from economic data or the Federal Reserve.

The market's pause comes in advance of remarks later this week by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who is President Barack Obama's nominee to succeed Bernanke. The market will be looking for clues whether the Fed will begin to cut back its $85 billion monthly stimulus sooner than anticipated.

That possibility increased after the Labor Department reported payrolls increased more than expected in October, which drove the Dow Jones industrial average to another record on Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 ended Friday's session within a few points of its all-time closing high.

"The question is, how hard do people want to push stocks?" said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading, in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The broad S&P 500 is up 24 percent so far in 2013 and the Dow is up 20 percent.

A Reuters survey showed that more U.S. primary dealers now expect the Federal Reserve to trim its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases before March.

"Until you get the blessing from Bernanke or Yellen that they're not going to taper, or some further data points, we're going to have this tug of war," said O'Rourke.

Bernanke is scheduled to speak at a Teacher Town Hall meeting on Wednesday and Yellen will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

The tone of trading was quiet, with bond markets closed for Veterans Day, a federal holiday.

Twitter Inc, which went public amid much fanfare last week, rose 1.4 percent to $42.23. The stock peaked at $50.09 on its first day of trading on Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.20 points, or 0.09 percent, to 15,775.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index inched up 0.39 of a point, or 0.02 percent, to 1,771.00. The Nasdaq Composite Index was flat, edging up just 0.12 of a point to 3,919.35.

Large-cap technology stocks have limited gains by the Nasdaq composite index in recent weeks. Apple Inc slipped 0.5 percent to $518.72.

Technology stocks have trailed several other industry sectors in 2013. The information technology sector ranks sixth among the S&P 500's 10 industry groups, with an 18.3 percent rise.

Shares of ViroPharma jumped 25.6 percent to $49.46 following news that London-listed Shire is buying the company for $4.2 billion, attracted by a pipeline of potentially lucrative drugs to treat rare diseases.

The CBOE Volatility Index,, or Vix, is on track to close at a three-month low. The index, Wall Street's favorite indicator of anxiety, suggests that investor fears are quite muted. A report by Credit Suisse published Monday notes that expected, or implied, one-year volatility has only been lower 5 percent of the time since the 2008 credit crisis.