NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks closed mixed on Monday as traders sought a clearer sense of the market's trajectory later in the week from a heavy slate of economic data and speeches from Federal Reserve officials.
Apple (AAPL - Get Report), Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) and F5 (FFIV) helped lift the Nasdaq into positive territory for the day. Shares of Apple popped 2.8% to $467.36 after reports emerged during the weekend that the maker of iPads is planning to launch the next version of its iPhone on Sept. 10. Apple last unveiled a new iPhone at an event on Sept. 12, 2012.
"The 900-pound gorilla right now is Fed uncertainty," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at ChannelCapitalResearch.com.Predictions continue to swirl as to when the central bank will begin to taper its $85 billion in monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities and longer-term Treasuries. Many economists have argued a drawdown in monetary stimulus could begin as early as September, but little change in the S&P on Monday suggested traders are still waiting to see. "It's basically a flat market waiting for direction, and it's a market that seems to want to burn off some of the froth as we made a new high," Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial, said in a phone interview. "In terms of seasonality, we've reached the time of the year when markets tend to struggle a bit." Krosby said investors are awaiting July's retail sales data, expected to print on Tuesday, and speeches from Fed officials, including Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. Retail sales could offer markets a gauge on how freely consumers are spending in retail markets, and whether the Fed is prepared to taper its monetary stimulus soon. S&P Capital IQ's Sam Stovall argued that stocks may actually have more to room to rise and that a full-blown correction is anything but assured. "First, we already had a summer swoon when the S&P 500 declined nearly 6% from May 22 through June 24," Stovall said in a note on Monday. "Second, history says (but does not guarantee) that the odds of a second summer swoon are low." The S&P 500 has begun a decline of 5% or more four times -- 1967, 1986, 1999 and 2009 -- during the five month period of May through September, Stovall said. U.S. economic data was light for Monday. The monthly budget report for July showed a deficit of $97.6 billion, according to the U.S. Treasury. The deficit printed slightly deeper than expected, as economists polled by Thomson Reuters were anticipating a federal budget deficit of $96 billion after posting a $116.5 billion surplus in June. Elsewhere, Japan's gross domestic product grew an annualized 2.6% in the second- quarter, according to a government report, short of 3.6% average forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey. The shortfall has added to concerns about the strength of the global economy at a time when Europe remains sluggish. Newmont Mining (NEM) led the S&P's top percentage gainers as the gold miner rode Monday's pop in gold prices. Shares closed up 4.7% at $30.90. Shares of BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report) were popping Monday morning after the company announced that its board of directors is exploring strategic alternatives for the company. The move could include an outright sale of the Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone maker. Shares surged 10.5% to $10.78. Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN - Get Report) was one of the biggest percentage losers on the S&P 500 Monday morning after reports emerged on Sunday that Roche was backing away from a deal with the biopharmaceutical company. Shares lost 4.2% to $109.26. European markets closed mixed on Monday. The FTSE 100 in London was off 0.14%, while the DAX in Frankfurt added 0.25%. Asian markets closed mixed overnight. Japan's Nikkei average dropped 0.71% to 13,519 after the weaker-than-expected GDP report. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 2.13% to 21,271. The benchmark 10-year was dropping 9/32, boosting the yield to 2.614%. The dollar was adding 0.31%, according to the U.S. dollar index. -- Written by Joe Deaux in New York. >Contact by Email. Follow @JoeDeaux