Stocks Finish Mixed in Slow Session

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks finished mixed on thin volumes Monday as traders looked ahead to the Jackson Hole, Wyo. economic summit this coming weekend, hoping for hints about the timetable for further monetary stimulus.

Both Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi are speaking at the symposium and investors are anxious to see if either will use the stage to lay the groundwork for more accommodation.

Technology was a bright spot for the market with Apple ( AAPL) rising nearly 2% and reaching another all-time high after a victory in a patent lawsuit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 33 points, or 0.25%, to close at 13,125. The blue-chip index, which is still up 7.42% so far in 2012, has now fallen in five of the past six sessions.

Breadth was negative within the Dow with decliners ahead of advancers, 20 to 10. The biggest percentage losers were Alcoa ( AA), Bank of America ( BAC), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and IBM ( IBM).

Blue-chip winners included Cisco ( CSCO), McDonald's ( MCD) and United Technologies ( UTX).

The S&P 500 dipped less than a point, or 0.05%, to settle at 1410.44, while the Nasdaq rose more than 3 points, or 0.11%, to finish at 3073.

The broad market stalled last week despite the S&P 500 visiting a multi-year high in intraday action, opening the debate on what will be necessary to drive the index another leg higher.

"In aggregate, U.S. stocks remain 10% below their Oct. 2007 all-time high, but from one perspective the equity markets have fully climbed the proverbial wall of worry," said Wells Fargo analysts in commentary published Monday. "Specifically, on Aug. 15, 2012 on a total return basis, the S&P 500 Index reached the point of having fully recovered all of its losses experienced during the financial market crisis and resulting recession."

Apple shares got a boost after a U.S. jury on Friday ordered Samsung to pay Apple a minimum of $1.05 billion in damages for violating a number of the iPhone and iPad maker's patents, while dismissing Samsung's claims against Apple. Earlier in the session, the stock hit a new all-time peak of $682.07, propelling the Nasdaq 100 large-cap index towards a 12-year closing high.

Google ( GOOG) shares finished down 1.4% amid concerns taht the company may have to relinquish certain features related to its Android smartphone operating system to avoid violating Apple patents.

Technology and conglomerates were the strongest sectors in the broad market while consumer cyclicals, transportation and basic materials were the weakest.

Volume remained light with 2.46 billion shares in play on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.38 billion changing hands on the Nasdaq.

The DAX in Germany finished up 1.1% and the FTSE in London was closed for a holiday.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng index finished down 0.41% and the Nikkei in Japan closed up 0.16%.

October crude oil futures fell 68 cents to settle at $95.47 a barrel and December gold futures were rose $2.70 to settle at $1,675.60 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 12/32, diluting the yield to 1.652%. The greenback was up 0.09%, according to the dollar index.

In corporate news, it was a fairly busy merger Monday as M&T Bank ( MTB) agreed to acquire Hudson City Bancorp ( HCBK) of Paramus, N.J., for roughly $3.7 billion. Hudson City Bancorp shares were jumping more than 16% and M&T shares were advancing nearly 5%.

In addition, car rental giant Hertz Global ( HTZ) reached a deal to snap up smaller rival Dollar Thrifty ( DTG) for about $2.3 billion.

Hertz agreed to buy Dollar Thrifty for $87.50 a share in cash, a premium of 8% over Dollar Thrifty's closing price of $81 on Friday. Hertz shares were surging more than 11% while shares of Dollar Thrifty were gaining more than 7%.

AOL ( AOL) said it has entered into a $600 million stock repurchase agreement with Barclays ( BCS) and authorized a $5.15 a share special cash dividend. Shares were gaining more than 2%.

Tiffany ( TIF), the upscale jewelry retailer, reported second-quarter earnings of 72 cents a share on sales of $887 million, up from earnings of 69 cents a share on revenue of $873 million a year ago. Analysts expected the company to post earnings of 73 cents a share on revenue of $890.85 million. Revenue at stores open at least a year fell 1%.

Tiffany slashed its full-year outlook for the second quarter in a row amid difficult global economic and market conditions. Shares were gaining more than 7%.


--Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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