December 24, 2014 / 12:52 AM / 6 years ago

Shares mostly flat ahead of holiday; oil slips

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. shares ended flat on Wednesday, with the Dow industrials eking out a record close after the latest data showed strength in the world’s largest economy, while a mixed economic picture in Europe kept the region’s stocks largely in check.

A man looks at an electronic board displaying Japan's Nikkei average (top C) and the stock price indexes of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo September 4, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Oil prices resumed declines after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a large build in U.S. crude stockpiles. Analysts had expected a seasonal draw, and the report fed worries about a supply glut.

The latest U.S. data buoyed shares and pushed the S&P 500 to a record intraday high, but investors ultimately found few reasons to push major U.S. share indexes to their sixth straight day of gains.

The Labor Department said U.S. weekly jobless claims fell for the fourth straight week, beating forecasts for a slight increase. A day earlier, the Commerce Department’s final estimate of U.S. third-quarter economic growth indicated the quickest pace in over a decade.

U.S. equity markets operated on a shortened trading schedule, closing at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) ahead of the Christmas Day holiday on Thursday.

“Sentiment is still positive, but investors are wary of what lies ahead in 2015,” said Wayne Lin, portfolio manager at QS Investors in New York. He said the uncertain impact of low oil prices on the global economy was one reason to trim positions in U.S. stocks.

European shares ended mostly flat in a shortened session after mixed economic data. Another set of record unemployment figures in France weighed on the Paris market, while data showed that British workers’ productivity had a long-awaited improvement in the third quarter.

MSCI's all-country world index .MIWD00000PUS was last up 0.11 percent at 420.56. Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed up 0.01 percent at 1,374.92.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed up 0.03 percent at 18,030.21. The S&P 500 .SPX closed down 0.01 percent at 2,081.88. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC closed up 0.17 percent at 4,773.47.

The dollar hovered slightly below the nearly nine-year high against a basket of major currencies touched a day earlier. But the upbeat U.S. jobless claims data underpinned the greenback on expectations of coming Federal Reserve rate hikes.

U.S. Treasuries yields moderated after hitting two-week highs during the session. Treasuries remained under pressure for a second straight day as the U.S. data reinforced bets that the Fed is closer to hiking rates. Also, an auction of $29 billion of seven-year notes attracted the weakest demand in more than a year.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields US10YT=RR were last at 2.27 percent, up from 2.26 percent late Tuesday.

The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, was last down 0.15 percent at 89.93.

Brent crude LCOc1 settled down $1.45 at $60.24 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 settled down $1.28 at $55.84 a barrel. [O/R] Spot gold prices XAU= were last down $1.53 to $1,173.83 an ounce.

Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica, Karen Brettell and Daniel Bases in New York; Marc Jones and Simon Falush in London; Editing by Leslie Adlerand David Gregorio

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