U.S. stocks pare loss, ending flat ahead of FOMC
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks pared their losses Monday to close virtually unchanged as investors waited for events later in the week, including the minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting, slated for release in two days.
"This is central bank week, we're all looking at Europe and the Fed," said Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners.
Economic reports since the Aug. 1 Federal Open Market Committee gathering have dented chances of a third round of quantitative easing by the Fed, although the release coming Wednesday is unlikely to illustrate that change.
"Even though the minutes are going to reflect they are leaving the door open, the odds have fallen since then because we've seen improvement in some of the data," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group in Pittsburgh.
"We're not falling apart; we're not doing fabulously well either. You'd like to be more definitive, but there isn't anything definitive," said Nolte of recent U.S. economic reports.
Housing data later in the week could offer more direction, Nolte added.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) declined 3.56 points, or 0.03%, to close at 13,271.64.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX) ended at 1,418.13, about flat compared with a close of 1,418.16 on Friday. Telecommunications were the hardest hit Monday and technology was the best performing of its 10 major industry sectors.
At Friday's close, Apple represented 4.73% of the S&P 500 index, with a market capitalization of $607.54 billion, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC.Read more about Apple.
The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) fell 0.38 point to 3,076.21.
Decliners slightly outweighed advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 551 million shares traded. Composite volume pulled within reach of 2.8 billion.
"The NYSE volume has fallen off a cliff, not just compared to other Augusts but compared to everything, but composite volume hasn't changed all that much. It's down from prior years, but less than 10%, while the NYSE volume is down 30% to 40%," said Nolte.
Gold at 2-month high
Oil futures for September delivery (CLU2) fell 4 cents to $95.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The more actively traded October contract (CLV2) fell 6 cents to settle at $96.26 a barrel. Read more on oil.
The U.S. dollar (DXY) declined against other global currencies, including the euro (EURUSD) . Treasury prices rose, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note (10_YEAR) falling to 1.814%. Read more on bonds.
Meanwhile, "optimism was dealt a setback," Stone said of the European Central Bank move to quell speculation about its planned bond-buying program, saying no decisions had been made.
Both the Dow and the S&P 500 on Friday sealed a sixth week of gains, their longest streaks since early 2011 and bringing the S&P within reach of a four-year high.