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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks continued to grind higher with little news to spur action and trading at below-average volume. Markets were on a tear last week after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and colleagues said the central bank would remain "patient" in its approach to interest rate hikes.

The S&P 500 added 0.39% to 2,078, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 156 points, and the Nasdaq was up 0.34%.

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Oil prices fell Monday with West Texas Intermediate crude down 3.5% to $55.16 a barrel after a brief rebound earlier. Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said his country was prepared to increase output to meet the demands of new customers, according to Saudi newspaper al-Hayat.

Major oil companies were in the red Monday with Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report , Chevron (CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report , Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Schlumberger NV Report and Halliburton (HAL) - Get Halliburton Company Report lower. The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund Report slid 1%.

As Wall Street enters its final two holiday-shortened weeks of the year, trading volume likely will remain light and corporate announcements scant. Existing home sales slid 6.1% to 4.93 million in November, down from 5.25 million a month earlier and missing estimates of an annualized pace of 5.17 million.

"This morning's disappointing home sales figures are part of the reason for the [Fed's] more lackluster assessment of the U.S. economy," said Sterne Agee chief economist Lindsey Piegza in a note. "Despite modest improvements in the labor market, consumers are still struggling with minimal income growth, dilapidated savings and in some cases, limited access to credit."

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Economic growth significantly improved in November, according to the Chicago Fed national activity index Monday. The index increased to 0.73 from an upwardly revised 0.31 in October, while the three-month average jumped its highest point since May 2010.

BlackBerryundefined added 6.9% as TD Securities issued an upgrade to "buy." Analysts said the smartphone maker is "effectively transitioning to a cross-platform software/services company" and that weak device sales are not indicative of the company's future.

Ocwen Financial (OCN) - Get Ocwen Financial Corporation Report shares were down 27% after the company announced its settlement agreement with the New York Department of Financial Services. As part of the agreement, the company will pay a civil monetary penalty of $100 million to the DFS by the end of this month.

Express Scripts (ESRX) and AbbVie (ABBV) - Get AbbVie, Inc. Report were mixed after reaching an exclusive hepatitis C pharmacy deal. AbbVie shares slipped 1.1% and Express jumped 1.7%. Gilead Sciences (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. Report dropped nearly 14% after Express said it would no longer cover the company's treatments.

Sony (SNE) - Get Sony Corp. Report shares gained nearly 1% after the company's attorney said the company was "still exploring options" as to the distribution of The Interview, the controversial movie that triggered hacker attacks against the studio.

Boeing (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report shares were up more than 1% after announcing that Air China has committed to purchase 60 737s, including Next-Generation 737 and 737 MAX airplanes, valued at more than $6 billion at current list prices.

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-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.