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Wall Street bounces modestly after year-opening fall

 

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks rebounded modestly on Friday, after Wall Street began the new year with a broad decline and investors grappled with a snowstorm that blasted the northeastern United States.

U.S. stocks suffered their worst decline since Dec. 11 on their first day of trading in 2014 as investors booked profits in the wake of the S&P 500's best yearly advance since 1997, with many of last year's strongest performers down on the day.

After closing 2013 with a gain of 29.6 percent, its best yearly performance since 1997, the S&P 500 opened the year with a decline of 0.89 percent, as each of the ten major S&P sectors lost ground.

Market volume, already expected to be on the light side as many market participants remain out of the office due to the New Year's holiday-interrupted week, will likely be anemic after a snowstorm caused more than 2,000 U.S. flight delays and cancellations, paralyzed road travel, and closed schools and government offices.

"After a first trading day jolt, the market is stabilizing and, where we are now, it could easily be swayed in either direction due to lack of attendance from the inclement weather," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in BernardsvilleNew Jersey.

"There is a faction of investors that are looking at yesterday's pullback as an opportunity to enter equities at a discounted price."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 56.13 points or 0.34 percent, to 16,497.48, the S&P 500 gained 4.68 points or 0.26 percent, to 1,836.66 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.515 points or 0.06 percent, to 4,145.584.

Cybersecurity company FireEye Inc has acquired Mandiant Corp, the computer forensics specialist best known for unveiling a secretive Chinese military unit believed to be behind a series of hacking attacks on U.S. companies. FireEye shares jumped 21.6 percent to $50.02.

The PHLX semiconductor index edged down 0.1 percent, weighed down by a 1.8 drop in Micron Technology Inc to$21.28 after RBC lowered its rating on the stock to a "sector perform" from "outperform."

Twitter shares gained 2.6 percent to $69.23. Shares in the social media company burst out of the gate in 2014 with a gain of more than 6 percent.

Investors will monitor automakers on Friday as they report vehicle sales for December. Chrysler Group LLC reported a 6 percent gain last month in U.S. auto sales, its best December since 2007, but still narrowly missed analyst expectations.

Ford Motor Co shares were flat at $15.44 and General Motors Co slumped 3 percent to $39.70 after posting their December sales.

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