US markets close flat after Dow jumps past 13,000

02-27-2012, 14h43

Banking shares on Monday pulled the Dow to the 13,027 level last seen in May 2008, but the index sank back in the final minutes of trade to end virtually unchanged.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed off a bare 1.44 points (0.01 percent) at 12,981.51.

But the broad-based S&P 500 added 1.85 (0.14 percent) to 1,367.59, its best finish since early June 2008.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite meanwhile gained 2.41 points (0.08 percent) to 2,966.16.

After losing 100 points at the opening, the Dow regained ground and moved well into the black helped by a buoyant report on the housing market to hit 13,027 in late afternoon trade before profit taking took it back down.

The last time the Dow closed above 13,000 was May 19, 2008, when markets were plunging as the US financial crisis spread.

Helping trade was a report from the National Association of Realtors that pending home sales rebounded 2.0 percent in January, twice as much as Wall Street expected.

Elizabeth Harrow of Schaeffer's Investment Research said that Berkshire Hathaway investment "oracle" Warren Buffett also boosted sentiment when he told CNBC television that "Equities are still cheap relative to any other asset class."

Banks led the way higher partly driven by the housing market news. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase both rose 2.0 percent, Wells Fargo added 2.8 percent, and American Express, 1.7 percent.

Motorola Solutions, the equipment maker created from a 2011 split of Motorola, surged 1.5 percent after announcing it bought back $1.2 billion of its shares from corporate raider Carl Icahn.

Billionaire Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway B shares rose 0.3 percent after the octogenarian tycoon said a successor has been chosen to lead the company, though not identifying just who.

Shares in cruise ship operator Carnival, already under pressure after one ship sank off the coast of Italy in January, slipped 0.03 percent after another vessel was reported adrift in the Indian Ocean following a generator fire.

Bond prices rallied. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.92 percent from 1.98 percent on Friday, while the 30-year yield dropped to 3.04 percent from 3.10 percent.

Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.