US STOCKS-Intel drags S&P, Nasdaq down; AmEx, Visa lift Dow

Reuters

* Intel falls after results, outlook

* American Express and Visa lead the Dow's gainers

* Morgan Stanley stock hits highest since 2009 after results

* UPS, Con-way pull DJ Transportation Average lower

* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P 500 off 0.2 pct, Nasdaq down 0.3 pct

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes mostly slipped on Friday, as declines in Intel and General Electric more than offset a rally in American Express shares in the wake of quarterly earnings.

Shares of Intel Corp slid 3.5 percent to $25.60 and weighed on each of the three major U.S. stock indexes a day after the chipmaker's fourth-quarter earnings missed expectations by a penny due to weak spending on servers. Intel gave a lukewarm forecast for first-quarter revenue.

General Electric Co shares dropped 2.6 percent to $26.49. The conglomerate reported a slightly better-than-expected increase in revenue on Friday, propelled by its businesses selling oil pumps and jet engines.

Bucking the session's slight downtrend was American Express Co, which reported quarterly results late on Thursday. Its strong numbers also boosted its peer Visa. Both were the top gainers in the Dow Jones industrial average, which outperformed the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

AmEx shares jumped 4.7 percent to $91.88. Visa gained 3.2 percent to $228.80.

As earnings continue to trickle in, analysts expect the market to get more clarity on the strength of Corporate America and look for leadership to define the next move.

"The market was teased in a good way by some of the first earnings, tempered later with disappointing numbers, and it's trying to make a sense of what the quarter is going to be," said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York.

Morgan Stanley rose 4.3 percent to $33.38 after previously hitting $33.52, its highest since November 2009. The bank reported a sharp drop in quarterly profit as it was hit by legal bills, but adjusted earnings beat estimates.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61.32 points, or 0.37 percent, to 16,478.33. The S&P 500 fell 3.17 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,842.72. The Nasdaq Composite declined 13.82 points, or 0.33 percent, to 4,204.87

After the S&P 500's 30 percent surge in 2013, largely due to stimulus from the Federal Reserve, the benchmark index started the year on a weak note. But the S&P 500 recovered recently to set a record closing high on Wednesday. For the year, the S&P 500 is down about 0.3 percent.

The economy, expected to show further signs of recovery as the Fed slowly withdraws its stimulus, gave reassuring signs. Data showed U.S. industrial output rose at its fastest clip in 3-1/2 years in the fourth quarter as factory activity closed out the year on a strong note.

Monthly housing starts posted their largest percentage decline since April, but were coming off a six-year high reached in November, and the decline was smaller than economists had expected. The PHLX housing sector index lost 1.2 percent.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index slipped to 80.4 from 82.5 in December, weighed by lowered expectations among lower- and middle-income families.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average dipped 0.2 percent, dragged down by a 1.1 percent drop in UPS Inc to $99.34 and a 2.5 percent decline in Con-Way to $40.37 after fourth-quarter outlooks.

NII Holdings jumped 19.6 percent to $2.87 after the company said it had reached a deal to bring Apple's iPhone to its Nextel operation in Brazil.

U.S.-traded shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev fell 1.9 percent to $101.52 after Reuters reported that the brewing giant is in advanced discussions to buy South Korea's Oriental Brewery from private equity owners KKR and Affinity Equity Partners for more than $4.5 billion.

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