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U.S. stocks were little changed, after the longest rally since September, as concern about Europe’s debt crisis and a drop in American home prices overshadowed better-than-estimated consumer confidence data.
Confidence among U.S. consumers rose in December to the highest level in eight months as an improving job market helped regain all the ground lost following the mid-year government budget battle and credit-rating downgrade. Another report showed that residential real estate prices dropped more than forecast in the year ended October.
German notes rose, pushing the rate on two-year notes to less than 0.2 percent for the first time, as investors sought the safest assets before Italy auctions as much as 20 billion euros ($26.2 billion) of debt.
Stock swings that reached twice the five-decade average left the S&P 500 with the smallest price change in 41 years and utilities, soapmakers and health-care providers at the highest valuations since 2008.
Dow 12,310.69 +16.69 +0.14%, Nasdaq 2,626.21 +7.57 +0.29%, S&P 500 1,267.31 +1.98 +0.16%
Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., the leading seller of children’s formula, jumped 5.3 percent after saying tests showed no bacteria in a batch of the product used by a baby who died.
MetLife Inc. rose 1 percent as General Electric Co.’s financial- services division will acquire its U.S. retail deposit business.
Sears Holdings Corp. tumbled 21 percent after saying it will close as many as 120 Kmart and Sears full-line stores.
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