US STOCKS-S&P 500 dips after rally, but Apple lifts Nasdaq

* Caterpillar rallies after fourth-quarter results

* S&P 500 dips after eight straight sessions of gains

* Bargain hunters snap up Apple following recent drop

* Dow up 0.03 pct, S&P 500 down 0.01 pct, Nasdaq up 0.4 pct

NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The Standard & Poor's 500 edged

lower on Monday as a four-week rally stalled, while a rebound in

Apple shares helped buoy the Nasdaq.

Caterpillar shares helped cap losses in the Dow

industrials after the heavy equipment maker's outlook eased

investors' fears about an economic slowdown in China.

Caterpillar's shares rose 2.1 percent to $97.61.

The S&P 500 is coming off a streak of eight sessions of

gains, the longest in eight years. On Friday, the major U.S.

stock indexes closed a fourth straight week of gains with the

S&P 500 ending the session above 1,500 for the first time in

more than five years.

The rally has left the market vulnerable to a short-term

pullback of up to 3 percent in the S&P 500 as bullish sentiment

continues to rise, according to Richard Ross, Auerbach Grayson's

global technical strategist.

"Still," Ross said, "we have a lot of momentum and nice

seasonality, and technicals support the long-term bull market."

Data on Monday pointed to growing economic momentum as

companies sensed improved consumer demand.

Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 150 companies in the

S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 67.3 percent have

beaten analysts' expectations. Since 1994, 62 percent of

companies have topped expectations, while the average over the

past four quarters stands at 65 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 4.34 points, or

0.03 percent, to 13,900.32.. The S&P 500 shed 0.19 of a

point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,502.77. The Nasdaq Composite

added 11.40 points, or 0.36 percent, to 3,161.11.

Bargain hunters lifted Apple after the tech giant's

stock dropped 14.4 percent in the previous two sessions. With

Apple's stock up 2.8 percent at $452, the iPad and iPhone maker

regained the title as the largest U.S. company by market

capitalization as Exxon Mobil fell 0.9 percent to $90.90

and slipped back to second place.

"I think there is more downside in Apple if you did get a

broad market pullback," Auerbach Grayson's Ross said.

"I'd be patient unless you're a trader. It might not be the

most attractive entry point."

U.S. durable goods orders jumped 4.6 percent in December, a

pace that far outstripped expectations for a rise of 1.8

percent. Pending home sales unexpectedly dropped 4.3 percent.

Analysts were looking for an increase of 0.3 percent.

Equities have gained support from a recent agreement in

Washington to extend the government's borrowing power. On

Monday, Fitch Ratings said that agreement removed the near-term

risk to the country's 'AAA' rating.

Hess Corp shares shot up 5.7 percent to $62.27 after

the company said it would exit its refining business, freeing up

to $1 billion of capital. Separately, hedge fund Elliott

Associates is looking for approval to buy about $800 million

more in Hess stock.

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc said a late-stage

trial of its experimental kidney disease drug met the main study

goal, and its shares soared nearly 60 percent to $5.45.

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