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US STOCKS-Wall St trades flat; still on track for weekly gains

Curtis Skinner
Friday, 27 Dec 2013 | 12:35 PM ET

* Dow on track for best two-week period since June 2012

* Twitter shares slide after massive rally

* Textron to buy Beechcraft for $1.4 billion in cash

* Dow up 0.1 pct,, S&P 500 flat, Nasdaq down 0.2 pct

NEW YORK, Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes barely budged on Friday, taking a break from the rally that has repeatedly pushed stocks to all-time highs this week as investors close out a stellar year for equities.

Twitter Inc, the social media stock, which has nearly tripled in price since going public in early November, slid 7.1 percent to $68.11 by midday. The stock, however, is still up about 13.5 percent for the week. Twitter was among the most actively traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

"I think you are just seeing some people take profits off the table here. I think it's normal market behavior at the end of the year," said Robert Francello, head of equity trading for Apex Capital in San Francisco.

A bright spot came from the telecom sector. Sprint Corp shares jumped 9.3 percent to $10.89 and topped the NYSE's most-active list, following speculation that a deal by Japan's SoftBank Corp to acquire U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile US is closer to getting done. SoftBank is considering the possibility of having Sprint, which it recently acquired, take a majority stake in T-Mobile, according to sources close to the matter. Sprint's stock earlier hit a 52-week high at $11.46.

The Nasdaq, which is a tech-heavy index, was down 0.2 percent, with leaders like Apple off slightly. The Nasdaq has surged 38 percent this year, making it the best performer among the three major U.S. stock indexes.

Volume overall was light, as it has been all week, with no economic figures and many participants out for the rest of 2013.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 7.81 points, or 0.05 percent, at 16,487.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.03 of a point, or unchanged on a percentage basis, at 1,842.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 6.24 points, or 0.15 percent, at 4,160.94.

For the week, the Dow has gained about 1.5 percent, the S&P 500 has added about 1.2 percent and the Nasdaq has advanced about 1.3 percent.

Equities have been on a tear lately, with the Dow climbing to its sixth straight record closing high on Thursday, the longest daily streak of gains for the blue-chip average since March.

Both the Dow and the S&P 500 are on track for a second straight week of solid gains. The S&P 500 is set to post its best two-week period since July, while the Dow is expected to mark its best two weeks since June 2012.

The S&P 500 has soared 29.2 percent this year, on track for its best year since 1997, in part due to the Fed's stimulus. The Dow has gained 25.8 percent in 2013.

Traders said they didn't expect another record year next year, but noted that more investors could adopt a more aggressive stance, given the success in equities and the strengthening economy.

"I don't think it's realistic to expect another 25 percent up year in the S&P or the Dow, but we have seen a tremendous move in the markets," said Randy Billhardt, head of capital markets at MLV & Co in New York.

In company news, Textron Inc agreed to buy aircraft maker Beechcraft Corp for $1.4 billion in cash. Shares of Textron shares rose 1.4 percent to $36.70.

General Motors Co's China joint venture will recall close to 1.5 million vehicles because of potential safety issues in one of the biggest recalls in the world's biggest auto market. GM's stock slipped 1 percent to $41.11.

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