Stocks Putter to Flat Close

U.S. stocks finished near the neutral line Monday as investors digested a jump in New York-area manufacturing and other numbers showing economic slowdowns on varying fronts.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stocks felt the pressure and finished flat Monday, though a better showing from the tech sector helped mitigate the damage as investors tussled with global economic slowdown stats and a jump in August manufacturing activity in the New York area.

After trading both higher and lower earlier today, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

finished 1 point lower, or 0.01%, to 10,302. The

S&P 500

was largely unchanged at 1079 and the

Nasdaq

went ahead by 8 points, or 0.4%, at 2182.

Concerns about the strength of economic recovery persisted earlier in Monday's session following news that

Japan's gross domestic product grew a mere 0.4% in the second quarter as China overtook Japan as the world's second-largest economy.

UBS cut its 2010 U.S. GDP growth forecast to 2.6%, from 3% and shaved its third-quarter growth forecast to 1.5%, from 3% on expectations for softer consumer spending and sluggish construction activity.

Economist Maury Harris expects that a higher personal savings rate will pressure growth in the near term but that the rate will stabilize as low interest rates and related investment incomes limit the amount that people can save.

"Casually, weaker growth reflected an increase in personal savings to more sustainable levels," Harris said. "At the same time, uncertainty has risen as a staggering stock market has reacted to problems in European financial affairs, struggling municipal finances and the Gulf oil spill."

"Looking forward, income formation has held up reasonably well and we believe the personal savings rate will stabilize. We expect low interest rates will also help buoy housing in coming quarters."

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2% while Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.6%. The FTSE in London added 0.01, while the DAX in Frankfurt was unchanged.

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The Economy

Manufacturing activity in the New York region grew in August to a reading of 7.10 from 5.08 in July, according to the New York Fed's Empire State manufacturing index.

The National Association of Home Builders' August housing market index fell to a reading of 13 from 14 in July, which was in line with economists' expectations, according to Briefing.com.

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Company News

Tech components

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

led and capped more extensive losses on the Dow, while

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

and

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

were the average's biggest laggards.

The number of international air travelers grew in the second quarter, although at a slower pace than the two preceding quarters, according to the International Air Transport Association. The news was moving airline stocks today. After trading higher earlier, shares of American Airlines' parent

AMR

(AMR)

declined 0.7% at $6.85, though those of United's parent,

UAL

(UAUA)

, gained 1.2%, to $21.74.

Following a

disappointing report from the Education Department today, several for-profit education outfits were losing ground.

Corinthian Colleges

(COCO)

and

Strayer Education

(STRA) - Get Report

tumbled 21.6% to $5.22 and 18.4% to $163.26, respectively.

PepsiCo

(PEP) - Get Report

plans to invest $250 million in its food and beverage businesses in Vietnam over the next three years. The stock shed 0.2%, to $65.43.

After losing out on a bid for

CF Industries

(CF) - Get Report

earlier this year,

Agrium

(AGU)

has now targeted

AWB

, an Australian agriculture retailer. Shares of Agrium fell 2.2%, to $65.79.

Shares of

Lowe's

(LOW) - Get Report

gained 0.6% to $19.70 after the home-improvement retailer reported second-quarter earnings that fell short of analysts' estimates but issued year-end earnings guidance that was within expectations.

Food distribution company

Sysco

(SYY) - Get Report

saw shares slip 2.3%, to $29.29 after it missed profit estimates by a penny with earnings of 57 cents a share. Sales, meanwhile, grew 13.2% to $10.3 million, exceeding expectations.

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

signed an

agreement to buy

3Par

(PAR) - Get Report

, a data-storage company, for $1.15 billion.

3Par has been deemed a desirable acquisition target since it's considered to be well-positioned for the shift toward cloud computing. Its stock soared 86% to $17.98, while Dell's stock was down by 0.4% at $11.96.

A manager at

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

was indicted by a federal grand jury for apparently providing Apple suppliers with confidential information about the company in exchange for kickbacks. Shares traded 0.6% lower at $247.64.

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Commodities and the Dollar

Crude

oil for September delivery settled 15 cents lower at $75.24 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the December gold contract gained $9.60 to settle at $1,226.20 an ounce.

The dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.5%.

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>>Treasuries

Treasuries

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up by 28/32, lowering the yield to 2.580%.

The two-year note was higher by 2/32, diluting yield to 0.496%. The 30-year bond was up by 2 16/32, weakening the yield to 3.725%.

--Written by Melinda Peer and Sung Moss in New York

.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.