Wall Street fails to make progress on low volumes

THE S&P 500 met tough resistance yesterday, failing to break a level that has held since mid-February even as a spate of deals and underlying strength in the economy spurred optimism.

But caution ahead of earnings season held volume to its lowest level this year and suggested the recent rally may be fading.

The benchmark S&P 500 hovered slightly below 1,333, which it has not closed above since mid-February. The level is double the 12-year low hit in March 2009 and not far from 1,344, the S&P’s highest since June 2008.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,602 to 1,344, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners by 1,387 to 1,230.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.31 points, or 0.19 per cent, to end at 12,400.03. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up just 0.46 of a point, or 0.03 per cent, at 1,332.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.41 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 2,789.19.

About 5.84bn shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq, the lowest of the year and below last year’saverage of 8.47bn.

Defence contractor General Dynamics dropped 5.2 per cent after one of its Gulfstream Aerospace jets crashed on a test flight, killing four.