Wall Street Flat After Caterpillar, Data

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U.S. stocks were flat at the market open on Monday (January 28), with investors reluctant to make big bets following an extended equity rally, though strong data and results from Caterpillar kept a positive tone in markets.


The S&P 500 is coming off a streak of eight sessions of gains, the longest winning streak for the index in eight years. On Friday, it closed above 1,500 for the first time in more than five years.


Caterpillar Inc rose 1.8 percent to $97.24 (USD) after the Dow component reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations, though revenue was slightly below forecasts. The heavy machinery maker also said it expects China's economy to improve, though not at the rates of 2010 and 2011.


The results continued the trend of major firms posting strong quarters, contributing to major averages rising for four straight weeks.


Thomson Reuters data through Friday showed that of the 147 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 68 percent exceeded expectations. Since 1994, 62 percent of companies have topped expectations, while the average over the past four quarters stands at 65 percent.


The Dow Jones industrial average was up 18.07 points, or 0.13 percent, at 13,914.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.07 points, or 0.00 percent, at 1,502.89. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 7.25 points, or 0.23 percent, at 3,156.97.


The S&P 500 on Friday closed at its highest since Dec. 10, 2007, and the Dow ended at its highest since Oct. 31, 2007. Over the past four weeks, the S&P has jumped 7.2 percent, suggesting markets may be vulnerable to a pullback if news disappoints.


Durable goods jumped 4.6 percent in December, a pace that far outstripped expectations for a rise of 1.8 percent.


In addition to earnings, equities have also risen on an agreement in Washington to extend the government's borrowing power. On Monday, Fitch Ratings said that agreement removed the near-term risk to the country's 'AAA' rating.


Previously, the agency said the lack of an agreement would prompt a review of the sovereign rating.


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