Wall Street flat after two day storm closure

THE US stock market slowly returned to life yesterday after two days in the dark, in the wake of the massive storm Sandy that caused the market's first weather-related two-day closure since the late 19th century.

The Dow and the S&P 500 closed little changed while the Nasdaq Composite edged 0.4 per cent lower in a session with slightly less than average volume. About 6.3bn shares exchanged hands on the NYSE, Nasdaq and NYSE MKT. Daily average for 2012 through last Friday was 6.51bn shares.

Investors made a knee-jerk move to buy companies that stand to benefit from home repairs. Dow component Home Depot climbed 2.2 per cent to $61.38 while rival Lowe’s rose 3.3 per cent to $32.38.

Generator manufacturer Generac Holdings shares surged 20 per cent to $34, building on a rally that started before the storm hit.

Shares of Netflix rose as much as 22 per cent before closing up 13.9 per cent at $79.24 after activist investor Carl Icahn reported a stake of nearly 10 per cent in the company, which offers subscriptions to watch movies and TV shows over the Internet and on DVDs.

Ford Motor rallied 8.2 per cent to $11.16 and was the NYSE’s most-active stock after the automaker reported strong results while the market was closed.

General Motors reported earnings that beat expectations, driving its shares up 9.5 per cent to $25.50.

Weakness in Apple weighed on the Nasdaq. The stock fell 1.4 per cent to $595.32.