NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks closed mixed Monday, as several major tech stocks closed higher, but deal news failed to give much of a boost to equities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed lower by 14 points, or 0.1%, to 10,553. The S&P 500 finished largely flat at 1139, though the Nasdaq added 6 points, or 0.3%, to 2332. >>TheStreet's Market Sentiment Poll Results The biggest deal of the day was
AIG's ( AIG) agreement to sell its foreign life insurance business to MetLife ( MET) in a transaction valued at roughly $15.5 billion. Shares of AIG gained $1.02, or 3.6%, to $29.10 while MetLife's stock added $1.98, or 5.1%, to $40.90. Bank of New York Mellon ( BK) agreed to acquire Germany's BHF Asset Servicing for $343 million. Tech stocks finished broadly to the upside. Cisco Systems ( CSCO) led all advancers on the Dow, adding 3.7% today. Helping boost the stock, the networking giant said in a statement it would make a "significant announcement" on Tuesday morning "that will forever change the Internet and its impact on consumers, businesses and governments." Telecommunications firms Verizon Communications ( VZ) and AT&T ( T) also helped lead the blue-chip average. Shares of Research In Motion ( RIMM) jumped 5.6% to $73.39, on an analyst upgrade ahead of the company's fourth-quarter results. Apple ( AAPL) hit a new intra-day high today, continuing a jump that began last week when Apple said its iPad would be in stores on April 3. Apple shares finished the day after adding 0.1% to $219.08 today. After the closing bell, Texas Instruments ( TXN) increased its first-quarter outlook, though not enough to impress investors, who sent shares down in extended trading. Elsewhere, McDonald's ( MCD) also turned in one of the Dow's best performances, as shares gained $1.45, or 2.3%, to $65.12. McDonald's said same-store sales rose 4.8% in February, supported by a 10.5% sales surge in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa region. U.S. sales, meanwhile, gained only 0.6%. No major economic reports were released Monday, giving some economists time to mull recent numbers, or look ahead. The February jobs report released by the Labor Department Friday showed nonfarm payrolls shed fewer jobs than expected and the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%. Joseph LaVorgna, Deutsche Bank economist, said the unemployment rate has likely peaked and that job growth is imminent.
"It was a little of a surprise to us that February payrolls declined by 36,000, due in large part to shut-in activity related to inclement February weather," he said. "Despite the latest employment data, we remain of the view that the labor market fundamentals point to significant job creation in the near term -- probably in the March report." UBS economist Maury Harris looked ahead to February retail sales, which will be released on Friday. "The heavy snowstorms in February may have weighed somewhat on retail sales growth. However, we forecast another solid gain excluding autos and gasoline in February," he said, adding that UBS estimates call for 0.5% growth, compared to January's increase of 0.6%. A spate of analyst notes on
steel companies had shares in the sector trading in opposite directions. Shares of Schnitzer Steel Industries ( SCHN) lost 2.9% after UBS analyst Timna Tanners downgraded the stock to neutral from buy, citing weakening scrap prices. "First, we think scrap prices will level out and likely fall as they usually do in the spring, as collections improve with better weather, helping boost the flow of scrap. Second, we think valuation is looking more appropriate with the sharp move in the stock's value in the past month. Finally, we think that M&A speculation has been part of the fuel for the stock's recent strength and we think Schnitzer is unlikely to be acquired near term," Tanners said, adding that long-term fundamentals for scrap dealers remain strong. Shares of Steel Dynamics ( STLD) and U.S. Steel ( X) rose 2.5% and 3.6%, respectively, on separate analyst upgrades, while shares of AK Steel ( AKS) slipped 3% on a downgrade from Goldman. News that Daimler ( DAI) is selling its entire stake in Tata Motors ( TTM) sent Tata down 3%. Panasonic ( PC) is partnering with Best Buy ( BBY) to market and boost sales of its 3D televisions in the U.S. Panasonic shares gained 1.1%, while Best Buy advanced 1.8%. Roche and Biogen ( BIIB) have halted ocrelizumab treatment of rheumatoid arthritis after some patients taking the drug died. Boeing ( BA) received a $1.6 billion order for 20 next-generation 737 planes from Turkish Airlines. Shares of Citigroup ( C), Ford ( F) and Bank of America ( BAC) saw heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange, which had a listed volume of 4.5 billion. Volume on the Dow was 171.7 million, compared with an average volume of 200.4 million.
The European Commission is mulling a
rescue fund to aid debt-logged eurozone countries. Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 2%, and Japan's Nikkei rose 2.1%. The FTSE in London rose 0.1%, and the DAX in Frankfurt gained 0.02%. The dollar was trading higher against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.01%. In commodities markets, crude oil for April delivery settled 37 cents higher at $81.87 a barrel, and the April gold contract lost $11.20 to settle at $1,124 an ounce. The benchmark 10-year Treasury weakened 8/32, strengthening the yield to 3.714%. -- Written by Melinda Peer and Sung Moss in New York.