Stocks Remain Listless Along the Flat Line - TheStreet

Stocks Remain Listless Along the Flat Line

The major averages show little lift despite a relatively positive report from the Commerce Department on durable goods orders.
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Updated from 12:36 p.m. EDT

Stocks in New York saw straggly trading Wednesday as traders, keeping a constant eye on fluctuating oil prices, seemed to pay little mind to any of the other rare bits of news that emerged.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

, which drove in and out of the green repeatedly this morning, was recently gaining 10 points at 12,558 despite a drag from financial components -- most prominently

AIG

(AIG) - Get Report

. The

S&P 500

gave up 1 point to 1384, and the

Nasdaq Composite

shed 2 points at 2478.

"We're looking at a commodities-driven market right now," said James Park, managing director with Rodman & Renshaw. "It's funny how that's changed from a couple of months ago when it was all about the credit markets."

"It's just a mixed bag today," he added. "People are trading very listlessly. We're definitely in holiday-week mode this week."

Matt King, chief investment officer with Bell Investment Advisors, concurred. "We really think we're going to be in a very narrow range out here," he said. "There's not much news moving these markets."

As for crude oil, futures lately were in stalwart recovery from an early slide, rising $1.84 at $130.69 a barrel.

At the same time, gold futures lost $7.60 at $900.30 an ounce. Also, the U.S. dollar continued to reap gains against both the euro and the yen. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its major counterparts, was up 0.3%.

But the major averages were weak despite those moves and a relatively positive report from the Commerce Department, which said that total orders of durable goods -- those designed to last three years or more -- fell just 0.5% sequentially last month. That's a bit worse than the prior month's 0.3% slip, but economists were expecting a 1.5% drop. Weighing heaviest was an 8% slide in transportation orders, without which total orders would have climbed 2.5%.

The financial sector was a big drag on corporate front: the

NYSE

Financial Sector Index recently plunging 0.9%, and insurance giant AIG lost 4.5% after Citigroup cut its price target on the firm.

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

was off 2.3%, and

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

shed 2.1% apiece.

Elsewhere, agricultural processor and ethanol maker

Archer Daniels Midland

(ADM) - Get Report

sank 4.1% after saying it will offer up to 35 million equity units for $50 apiece in an effort to raise $2 billion.

Separately, Dow component

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

reaffirmed its

current-quarter and full-year outlook

, though its largest bottler,

Coca-Cola Enterprises

(CCE)

lost 5.2% after cutting its second-quarter guidance to a profit fall in the mid-to-high single digits. Coca-Cola shares were down 1.4%.

Fellow industrial

Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

, meanwhile, announced that it has been forced to ramp up product prices by up to 20% as it's being bombarded by the soaring costs of energy, feedstock, and transportation. The price hike will take effect on June 1. Shares ticked up 1%.

Back in the financial patch, a German business paper reported that Sweden's SEB and France-based BNP Paribas and Societe Generale might be interested in trying to acquire Citigroup's Citibank unit. The banks are also reportedly eying Deutsche Postbank and

Allianz's

(AZ)

Dresdner Bank. Allianz rose 0.7%.

Meanwhile, merger discussions between United Airlines operator

UAL

(UAUA)

and

US Airways

(LCC)

evidently have fallen apart,

CNBC

reported, citing people with direct knowledge of the talks. Shares of UAL slumped 2.7% as U.S. Airways lost 6.5%.

UPS

(UPS) - Get Report

was among the winners, gaining 3.1% after saying it's pursuing an agreement to provide transportation in its air network for all of DHL's express, deferred and international package volume within the U.S. UPS also would provide airlift for DHL packages between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Also, a Detroit paper reported that carmaker

Ford

(F) - Get Report

plans to slash its salaried work force by up to 12% as the company suffers from harsh economic conditions. Shares of Ford surrendered 0.6% following an early rise.

Treasury prices were losing ground. The 10-year note was down 27/32 in price to yield 4.03%, and the 30-year bond slid 1-3/32 in price, yielding 4.71%.

Markets abroad were mixed. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 sank 1.3% overnight, and the Nikkei 225 slipped 0.1%. Europe fared better however, as London's FTSE 100 rose 0.2% and Germany's Xetra Dax climbed 1.1%. The Paris Cac jumped 1.3%.