Stocks pulled modestly higher by late morning Monday as crude oil shook off earlier losses to trade around $42 a barrel.
The S&P 500 rose 0.2%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.09%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.3%.
Crude oil recouped earlier losses though it remained under pressure after Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino warned that oil prices could drop "to as low as the mid-$20s a barrel" unless the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries takes action and cuts output. The group's next meeting is on Dec. 4. West Texas Intermediate crude was down more than 1% earlier in the day, before turning 0.2% higher to trade at $42.06 a barrel.
Sales of existing homes slid 3.4% in October to an annual rate of 5.36 million, according to the National Association of Realtors, in line with analysts' estimates. Sales of previously owned homes remained 3.9% higher than October last year, a sign demand in the housing market remained robust.
The S&P 500 wrapped up its best five-day gain of 2015 last week. Benchmark indexes closed last week with gains of more than 3% each after the Federal Reserve made clear a December rate hike was more likely. Instead of pulling the markets lower, investors were relieved at the chance to plan ahead after months of not knowing when the central bank will finally make its move.
There is a "strong case" for hiking rates in December, San Francisco Fed President John Williams said in a speech Saturday. Williams noted that a rate increase is likely if positive economic data continues and as signs that inflation will return to 2% are reinforced.
Allergan (AGN) - Get Report slid more than 1% after Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report finally sealed the acquisition of the Dublin-based drugmaker. Allergan shares have surged more than 20% over the past 30 days as deal talks progressed. The $160 billion deal will create the world's biggest drugmaker, as well as the biggest tax inversion in corporate history as Pfizer will move to Ireland.
GameStop (GME) - Get Report plummeted 15% following a disappointing third quarter. The video game retailer earned an adjusted 54 cents a share, a nickel below estimates, while revenue slid 3.3% to $2.02 billion.
Mallinckrodt (MNK) - Get Report shares surged 7.6% after the drugmaker posted a better-than-expected quarter. The company earned $1.84 a share, 8 cents above estimates, driven by sales growth in its specialty brands segment, which includes multiple sclerosis drug Acthar.
Alcoa (AA) - Get Report jumped nearly 4% on reports hedge fund Elliott Management has disclosed a 6.5% stake in the aluminum producer. The fund has reportedly also spoken with management, according to CNBC.
AIG (AIG) - Get Report shares rose 0.4% after activist investor Carl Icahn insisted the company split into three separate public entities. Icahn said in a statement Monday that he had met with CEO Peter Hancock several times to discuss the proposal, but had been met with resistance.