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Stocks Finish Mixed; Nasdaq Extends Rally


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks finished mixed on Monday, getting the holiday-shortened week off to a slow start following Friday's euphoric response to European summit developments.

The equity markets are slated to close early at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday and be shut down completely on Wednesday for the July 4th Independence Day holiday.

Monday's economic data provided little impetus to rally further as a weaker than anticipated report showed a contraction in monthly manufacturing activity for the first time in nearly three years but the Nasdaq and S&P 500 both managed modest gains while the Dow finished more than 75 points above its session low.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 9 points, or 0.07%, to close at 12,871.

The S&P 500 added more than 3 points, or 0.25%, to settle at 1365.51.

The Nasdaq booked a gain of more than 16 points, or 0.55%, to finish at 2951, its high for the day.

Breadth within the Dow was split equally between winners and losers. The biggest blue-chip decliners were Alcoa (AA), Bank of America (BAC), Boeing (BA), Caterpillar (CAT), du Pont (DD) and General Electric (GE).

The biggest gainers in the index were American Express (AXP), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and AT&T (T).

The weakest sectors were conglomerates, capital goods and consumer cyclicals, while health care, financials and utilities were areas of strength.

The bulls were kept in check after the Institute for Supply Management reported its manufacturing index fell to 49.7% in June from 53.5% in May, indicating contraction for the first time since July 2009. The market was expecting the index to fall to 51.5% in June, according to Briefing.com.

"The fall in June's ISM manufacturing index to below 50 for the first time since the last recession is the surest sign yet that the US is catching the slowdown already underway in Europe and China," wrote Paul Dales, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics in response to the data. "But the index does not suggest that another recession is looming."

Dales explained a reading below 47.0 is viewed as indicative of declining economic growth. "The index is therefore only (!) pointing to a slowdown in annualized GDP growth from 1.9% in the first quarter to a little under 1%," he said.

The big culprit in Monday's disappointing manufacturing report was the drop in new orders to 47.8 from 60.1.

"That is the largest one-month fall since the 9/11 terrorist attacks," Dales said. "It is especially worrying as the new orders index is the most forward-looking component of the survey."

Other data was more positive as the Commerce Department reported that construction spending surged by 0.9% in May, far exceeding the expected 0.2% increase, according to Briefing.com. April's increase was upwardly revised to 0.6% in the less impactful report.

"We're going to see a recovery, but a haphazard economic recovery," said Fuad Ahmed, CEO of Just2Trade.

A key economic indicator coming up later this week and after the July 4 holiday and July 3 half day is Friday's nonfarm payrolls report from the Labor Department, which is expected by Briefing.com to say that the economy added 100,000 jobs in June after creating a paltry 69,000 jobs in May.

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