Key Points:

NEW YORK - US stocks slipped today, the last trading day of 2006, as investors exited positions before an unplanned four-day weekend, but all three major indexes posted sharp gains for the year.

Based on the latest available data, The Dow Jones industrial average was down 38.37 points, or 0.31 per cent, to end unofficially at 12,463.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 6.58 points, or 0.46 per cent, to finish unofficially at 1,418.15.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 10.28 points, or 0.42 per cent, to close unofficially at 2,415.29.

For 2006, the Dow climbed 16.3 per cent, the S&P 500 jumped 13.6 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 9.5 per cent.

For the week, the Dow finished unofficially up 1 per cent, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.5 per cent and the Nasdaq added 0.6 per cent.

- REUTERS