Transportation stocks weigh on Wall Street

US stocks ended mostly flat yesterday, taking another pause in the recent rally that has driven the S&P 500 to five-year highs, as transportation and technology shares lost ground.

Transportation stocks were among the worst performers. Shares of CH Robinson Worldwide fell 9.7 per cent to $60.50 and the stock was the biggest percentage loser on the Nasdaq 100 after the freight transport company posted a lower-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit.

Without a strong catalyst, the market could struggle to continue its rally, analysts said. The benchmark S&P 500 index has advanced 6 per cent this year, reaching its highest since December 2007, while the Dow Jones industrial average has risen above 14,000 recently.

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch analysts see a near-term pullback likely, based on strong equity inflows at the start of the year, said Dan Suzuki, the bank’s equity strategist in New York.

“The fact that we’ve gone since November without seeing one, from a timing perspective, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one now.”

With fourth-quarter earnings nearing an end, the market will be losing one of its big supports, said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago. “That’s one thing that’s been holding the market up,” he said.

Shares of Time Warner jumped 4.1 per cent to $52.01 after reporting higher fourth-quarter profit that beat Wall Street estimates, as growth in its cable networks offset declines in film, TV entertainment and publishing units.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 7.22 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 13,986.52. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.83 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 1,512.12. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.10 points, or 0.10 per cent, at 3,168.48.