Stocks Finish Mixed as Global Issues Weighed
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The major U.S. stocks indices finished in mixed territory Monday as investors weighed more evidence of a cooling Chinese economy against expectations that Greece was set to receive final approval of a new bailout package.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher by 37.7 points, or 0.3%, to 12,960. The S&P 500 was up 0.2 points, or 0.02%, to 1371 and Nasdaq was down 4.7 points, or 0.2%, to 2984, weighed down by Yahoo! (YHOO), Oracle (ORCL) andResearch In Motion (RIMM).
With no U.S. economic data releases on Monday, the focus turned to news abroad, including Greece's progress on getting a second bailout. Last week, the country successfully completed its debt swap with private investors, a deal that was subsequently declared as a "credit event" triggering payouts related to credit default swaps. Euro leaders Monday are expected to meet in Brussels in order to sign off on $170 billion worth of aid for Greece.China reported slower than expected export growth in the last month. The country's trade deficit hit $31.5 billion in February, its largest trade deficit since 1989, as exports to debt-troubled Europe weakened. Exports rose at 18.4%; however, they were 23.6% lower than January's levels. The data, together with recent reports on factory output and retail sales, suggest slowing growth in China. On the upside, Japan reported that its machinery orders rebounded in January, suggesting future growth momentum. European markets closed mixed, although Germany's DAX eked out a 0.3% gain and London's FTSE posted a 0.05% gain. Japan's Nikkei Average closed down 0.4% on Monday and Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished up 0.23%. The Federal Reserve will make an announcement later this week on monetary policy, which though not expected to change will nevertheless be subject to intense scrutiny by investors watching for clues of some kind of bond buying later this year. The week is packed full of economic data, including a regional manufacturing report on Thursday and a consumer sentiment reading on Friday. Also up this week are results of the latest bank stress tests. "The market needs clearer direction, which may come with more economic data ... [but] if we see something with the financial sector, that could spook markets and we could see a pullback," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist with Premier Financial Advisors. "Be prepared for a slight pullback and definitely more volatility. ... The steep decline last week prepared us for it," he added, referring to last Tuesday's selloff in reaction to China's announcement that it will target a lower 7.5% GDP growth for 2012.
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