Stocks pause at end of strong week

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Stocks were little changed at the end of a strong week as investors head into the home stretch of what has been a terrific year for Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 ended flat Friday. The Nasdaq fell slightly. For the week, all three indexes advanced more than 1%. Trading volume has been below average this week with many money managers absent for the holidays.

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Markets have charted big gains this year. The Dow is up more than 25% and S&P 500 has gained nearly 30%. The Nasdaq has soared 38%. The Dow is on track for its biggest annual gain since 1996 and the S&P 500 is on pace for its strongest year since 1997.

Several factors have helped spur gains this year, including ongoing economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve, increased confidence in the economy and solid corporate earnings growth.

Earlier this month, the Fed announced that it will modestly reduce its bond buying program in January. But many experts believe the bull market will continue for a sixth year in 2014, albeit at a more modest pace.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 3% for a second day. That's the highest level of the year and some investors say it could set the stage for higher interest rates next year.

Delta Airlines (DAL) shares fell after a glitch caused steeply discounted tickets to be offered online Thursday.

Some StockTwits traders said the selling in Delta stock was overdone.

"$DAL hahaha seriously, People freak out and sell over something like this. Hilarious," said Apeneck.

Another trader joked that Delta may have revealed the true cost of its airfares.

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"$DAL Round trip tickets for 80 bucks? Did they just show us true cost??? Haha," said kayak83.

Sprint (S) shares surged amid ongoing speculation that SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that owns the telecommunications company, is working on a $20 billion bid to buy rival T-Mobile (TMUS).

Shares of Twitter (TWTR) were under pressure following a strong rally this month. Even with Friday's declines, Twitter stock is up more than 57% in December.

Some traders said the selling is just getting started.

"$TWTR too early to call the drop over..." said straightsix.

Others said it was not surprising given the run Twitter has had this month.

"$TWTR healhty for this to give up 10 points here," said OptionsNoobi.

Facebook (FB) shares have also been on a tear this month. The social network has gained more than 20% in December, but shares were little changed Friday.

European markets and Asian markets ended the week on a positive note.

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