US stocks flat amid quiet trading

Wall Street's six-day rally has stalled as stocks ended the day mostly flat in quiet trading.

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The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 1.47 points at 16,478.41

Wall Street's six-day rally has stalled as stocks ended the day mostly flat in quiet trading.

Bond yields continued to rise. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed above the 3% mark. The yield has not consistently traded above that level since July 2011. The increase will translate into higher interest rates on mortgages and other kinds of loans.

Energy stocks were among the biggest gainers after oil prices climbed above 100 US dollars a barrel for the first time since October. Offshore oil drilling companies Transocean and Diamond Offshore each rose about 1.5%. Oil giant ExxonMobil climbed 1%.

Sprint jumped 83 cents, or 8%, to 10.79 dollars following news reports that Japan's Softbank, which owns Sprint, may use the company as a vehicle to purchase wireless competitor T-Mobile.

Most of Wall Street remains on vacation. Trading volume has been very low this week. Only two billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange today, about 40% below the recent average.

There were no major economic reports or corporate earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 1.47 points, or 0.01%, to 16,478.41.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.62 point, or 0.03%, to 1,841.40 and the Nasdaq composite was down 10.59 points, or 0.3%, at 4,156.59.

Even with today's pause, the stock market has been in rally mode heading into the end of the year.

The Dow and S&P 500 are up 2.4% and 2% respectively so far in December, with only two trading days left in the year. For 2013, the S&P 500 is up roughly 29%, its best year since 1997, and the Dow is up 25.8%, its best year since 1996.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3% from 2.99% yesterday.

Bond yields have steadily climbed since December 18, when the Federal Reserve announced it was paring back its bond-buying program. The purchases were aimed at keeping long-term interest rates low to encourage borrowing and hiring.

"Interest rates are on a road back to normalcy after being artificially suppressed by the Fed," said Karyn Cavanaugh, market strategist with ING US Investment Management.

She said she expects the yield on the 10-year note to rise to about 3.5% by the end of 2014.

In corporate news General Motors was also among the bigger movers, falling 58 cents, or 1%, to 40.94 dollars. The automotive giant said it would have to recall 1.5 million cars in China to replace a bracket that secures a fuel pump.

Twitter fell 9.56 dollars, or 13%, to 63.75 dollars. It has soared in recent days, prompting one Wall Street analyst to downgrade the company's stock to the equivalent of "sell", saying the rally was overdone.

Even with today's sell-off, the social media company's stock is still up 53% this month.

AP