US stocks run out of steam in morning trade

US stocks were flat after an hour of trade Monday, losing opening gains in a market supported by encouraging China trade data and earnings from a key US homebuilder.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2.76 points (0.02 percent) at 12,812.63 at 1531 GMT.

The broad-market S&P 500 edged up 0.73 point (0.05 percent) to 1,380.58, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite rose 2.69 (0.09 percent) to 2,907.56.

"The support for stocks comes as China reported stronger than expected exports and US homebuilder DR Horton Inc posted better-than-expected earnings," Charles Schwab & Co. analyst said.

China's export growth accelerated in October for the second straight month, the government said Saturday, adding to evidence the world's second-largest economy is bouncing back from a slowdown.

D.R. Horton rose 0.5 percent. The large Texas-based homebuilder, with business in 27 states, reported a big jump in fiscal fourth-quarter profit from a year ago amid improvement in the ailing housing market.

Donald Horton, the company's chairman, said: "We are positioned for a strong start to fiscal 2013, with our highest year-end backlog since fiscal 2007."

Smaller rival Beazer Homes USA plunged 9.0 percent after reporting a larger-than-expected loss for the fiscal fourth quarter.

In merger and acquisition action, holding company Leucadia National will purchase the rest of what it does not already own of global investment banking firm Jefferies Group, the companies announced. Leucadia dropped 4.5 percent and Jefferies jumped 12.1 percent.

Canadian firm Research in Motion's US-traded shares rose 3.3 percent after it announced a January 30 launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

AT&T and Boeing led the Dow gainers, up 1.0 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Insurer Travelers was the laggard, down 1.2 percent.

There were no major economic data scheduled for release and the bond market was closed in observance of Veterans Day.

On Friday, US stocks eked out small gains, capping a week of two percent losses amid fears about the nation's looming "fiscal cliff," automatic spending cuts and expiring tax breaks that will come at year-end unless Democrats and Republicans can reach a compromise to avoid them.

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