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Stocks Close Little Changed

Updated from 4:14 p.m. EST

Buyers did their work early and then took the afternoon off, leaving stocks narrowly mixed at the close of trading Monday.

The Dow Jones industrial Average finished up 3.76 points, or 0.03%, at 12,490.78, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 5.60 points, or 0.23%, to 2441.09. The S&P 500 was lower by 1.56 points, or 0.11%, at 1420.62.

"This is just the latest signal that the bulls and bears remain evenly matched," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist with CyberTrader. "Each one attacks the other, but neither can make any headway. It's a rangebound market."

Gains of 1.8% in Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Intel (INTC) benefited the Dow.

The Nasdaq got help from Activision (ATVI) and Juniper Networks (JNPR), both higher by 2.8%.

Roughly 2.70 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers beat decliners by a 9-to-7 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq reached nearly 1.97 billion shares, with winners outpacing losers 3 to 2.

Weighing on equities were worries about the Federal Reserve and when it might cut rates. For the past few months, traders have been looking for data that show a healthy economy, but not one that's growing so rapidly as to cause significant delays in rate reductions.

Outlier numbers on either side of investors' expectations about the economy -- whether showing terrific growth or substantial softness -- have generally led to selloffs in stocks. The policymaking Federal Open Market Committee meets Tuesday and Wednesday, but no change is expected in rates.

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