US stocks slightly up

Wall Street drifted to a slightly higher finish today as investors shied away from taking new positions in a holiday-shortened week. Despite the market's languid tone, Google Inc. surpassed $500 for the first time.

Wall Street drifted to a slightly higher finish today as investors shied away from taking new positions in a holiday-shortened week. Despite the market's languid tone, Google Inc. surpassed $500 for the first time.

Investors' hesitation came after Wall Street snapped a six-session winning streak on Monday, concerned that a recent run-up has driven some stocks too high. No big moves were expected before Thanksgiving, although retailers remain in focus ahead of one of the biggest shopping days of the year on Friday.

But investors still put more money into the nation's No. 1 search engine. Google rallied more than 2% to a new record, hitting an intraday high of $509.88. Shares have soared since the company priced its initial public offering at $85 a share in August 2004.

Boeing Co. led the Dow Jones industrials after the aerospace company received a $5.5bn (€bn) order for planes from Korean Air Lines Co. Also, Medtronic Inc., the biggest maker of heart defibrillators, rose after it reported earnings above Wall Street projections late on Monday.

"We've been seeing a slow down trickle in volume over the past few days because of the holiday," said Scott Fullman, director of investment strategy for Hapoalim Securities USA. "The market is just holding here, trying to work off a little bit of its overbought conditions that resulted from the rise that we've had over the past month or so."

The Dow rose 5.05, or 0.04%, to 12,321.59.

Broader stock indicators also edged higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2.31, or 0.16%, at 1,402.81, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 2.12, or 0.09%, to 2,454.84.

Bonds edged higher with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.58% from 4.60% on Monday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

Oil closed higher, with a barrel of light sweet crude up $1.37 cents at $60.17 (€46.85) on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Richard Cripps, chief market strategist for Stifel Nicolaus, said the choppy market conditions are common at this point in the year. However, he warned that investors should not count out big price moves as volume on the New York Stock Exchange is still about 10% from normal levels.

"I won't go so far as to say investors should cancel holiday plans with the family to watch the final tick on Wednesday," he said, "but I'd say this week still present fresh opportunities. Friday will obviously be much less."

Volume on the NYSE rose to $1.1 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, compared to 1.53 billion shares compared with 1.26 billion shares traded at the same point Friday.

During Tuesday's session, advancers led declining issues by about 3 to 2. The stock markets are closed on Thursday, and have a half session on Friday.

Much of that volume was pumped through Google, whose market value hit $154bn (€120bn) just eight years after the company was started in a Silicon Valley garage. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is now worth more than big technology names such as Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

The Internet search engine unveiled discounts for online shoppers who use its payment service during the holiday season, and there are continued reports that advertising continues to shift away from print. Google rose $14.60, or 3%, to $509.65, and is up about 21% so far this year.

Also anchoring technology issues was Apple Computer Inc., whose shares rose to a historic high. Shares rose $1.86, or 2.2%, to $88.33 as speculation mounted the company will unveil an iPod-based phone sometime next year.

Boeing advanced after the company scored one of its biggest orders this year with Korean Air buying 25 passenger and freighter aircraft. The stock rose $1.98, or 2.2%, to $91.10.

The deal was seen as a victory for Boeing over rival Airbus.

Medtronic was upgraded by a number of analysts after the medical device maker posted a quarterly profit that beat expectations. The company said it picked up market share from rivals, especially for heart-related devices that manage irregular heart rhythms. The stock rose $4.60, or 9.4%, to $53.55.

Juniper Networks Inc. spiked after JPMorgan raised its recommendation for the company. The analysts raised the maker of equipment that directs Internet traffic to "overweight" from "neutral," pushing shares up 94 cents to $21.42.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 1.28, or 0.16%, to 791.90.

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