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January rally interrupted as buyers pull back

Thursday, January 26, 2012

(Reuters) - A month-long rally on Wall Street appears to be sputtering as stocks slipped on Thursday in what investors called a possible warning of weakness ahead.

Weaker-than-expected home sales figures and a group of mixed earnings reports tempered the market's recent buying interest.

With the S&P 500 up nearly 5 percent for the year, analysts said the market was due for a pullback. Wall Street has advanced in recent weeks as U.S. data raised expectations the economic recovery was picking up steam.

"This market is tired and overbought, and we're seeing the results of that today," said Larry McMillan, president of McMillan Analysis Corp.

"After yet another knee-jerk rally on moderately positive economic news, the buyers are out of gas," McMillan said.

Stocks began higher, helped by the Federal Reserve's vow on Wednesday to keep interest rates near zero at least until the end of 2014, a support for buying of risky assets.

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