Wall Street closed out Monday mixed with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average extending their gains into a fifth session... but only by a hair.
The Dow rose 0.4%, thanks to a rally in the energy and basic materials sectors, and the S&P 500 gained just 0.09%. The Nasdaq snapped its streak, pulling 0.19% lower due to pressure from high-momentum tech names.
Even a massive surge in commodity markets couldn't lift stocks enough to mirror last week's major gains. Crude oil closed at its best level since January on forecasts that U.S. shale output will continue to fall over the next month. The Energy Information Administration predicts U.S. shale oil production will drop by 106,000 barrels a day in April, helping alleviate a surplus. West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed 5.5% higher at $37.90 a barrel.
The basic materials sector was the best performer on markets Monday, led by gains among Rio Tinto(RIO) - Get Report , BHP Billiton(BHP) - Get Report and Vale(VALE) - Get Report . The Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLB) - Get Report added 1.2%.
Energy stocks were also higher, including Exxon Mobil(XOM) - Get Report , Chevron(CVX) - Get Report and ConocoPhillips(COP) - Get Report . The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Report rose 2.4%.
Apple(AAPL) - Get Report , a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, dragged on the tech sector after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the iPhone-maker's appeal of an unfavorable ruling on e-book price fixing. Apple must now pay $450 million to resolve the claims, the bulk of which will be distributed to e-book customers. Shares were down 1.1%.
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Other major tech companies including Amazon(AMZN) - Get Report , Alphabet(GOOGL) - Get Report , Microsoft(MSFT) - Get Report and Facebook(FB) - Get Report slid, while the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) - Get Report fell 1.2%. Alphabet and Facebook are also holdings in Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.
Signs of a more dovish Federal Reserve helped to boost sentiment on Monday. The Fed must be patient in its approach to further hikes after raising rates 25 basis points last December, Governor Lael Brainard said at a banking conference in Washington, D.C.
"Tighter financial conditions and softer inflation expectations may pose risks to the downside for inflation and domestic activity," Brainard said. "From a risk-management perspective, this argues for patience as the outlook becomes clearer."
The Fed's monetary policy committee will consider interest rates at its meeting in about a week, on March 15-16. A majority of traders don't expect central bank members to make a move during their meeting.
Stocks have enjoyed a strong start to March overall, rallying over the first four days of the month. The S&P 500 climbed nearly 3% last week, its third straight week of gains, after a stronger-than-expected jobs report.
"Last week, stocks soared again as oil prices pushed higher and U.S. data reflected an economy nowhere near recession," Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management, wrote in a note. "The February jobs report was mostly viewed as positive, despite continued sluggish wage growth."
Exelon(EXC) - Get Report rose and Pepco (POM) fell after the two companies proposed measures that could appease regulators looking into their $6.8 billion merger. The utilities companies' proposals included offering $25.6 million in funds to offset rate increases for residential customers, particularly low-income families.
DuPont(DD) - Get Report rose more than 2% on reports German chemicals company BASF is interested in making a bid for the company. Any offer would act as a counterbid to a previous agreement DuPont made to merge with Dow Chemical(DOW) - Get Report in December. Dow Chemical is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.
Sprint(S) - Get Report rose almost 4% after controlling shareholder Softbank (SFTBF) announced plans to split into two companies. The Japanese telecom provider will split its overseas holdings, including Sprint and Alibaba(BABA) - Get Report , from its domestic businesses.
Marvell Technology(MRVL) - Get Report added 4.3% on reports it is open to a sale. The semiconductor company is exploring a potential sale not long after settling a $750 million patent dispute with Carnegie Mellon University, according to The New York Post. Avago Technologies(AVGO) - Get Report is a possible interested party, according to the paper.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) was up 7.1% after setting March 15 as the date it will disclose its fourth-quarter earnings and 2016 outlook. The drugmaker had initially planned to report earnings at the end of February, but delayed the release and withdrew previous full-year guidance.