Stocks Flat as Home Sales Drop, McDonald's Decelerates

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Markets closed little changed on Monday after the S&P 500's record climb last week as slowing growth at  McDonalds  ( MCD) and weakening existing home sales weighed on investor's recent eagerness to push stocks higher.

The S&P gained 0.01% to 1,744.65, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 0.05% to 15,392.01. The Nasdaq added 0.15% to 3920.05.

McDonald's shares dipped 0.6% to $94.44 after the fast food giant said global October comparable sales will likely be flat.

"We're taking a break after the end of last week but with government debt issues out of the way and earnings coming in relatively good, the market is poised to move higher to the  end of the year," Walter Todd, chief investment officer of Greenwood Capital which manages $950 million in total assets, said in a phone interview. 

Last week the S&P 500 had its strongest weekly gain since July, fueled by speculation the Federal Reserve will delay cutting bond purchases. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans told CNBC Monday that the Fed may not begin tapering for several months given the government shutdown had muddied the economic outlook.

Existing home sales slipped 1.9% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.29 million from 5.39 million in August as higher prices hurt affordability. They were still 10.7% above levels a year earlier. Economists polled by Bloomberg were expecting sales of 5.3 million units.

Other data on tap this week include the September government jobs report on Tuesday. The report has been delayed for more than two weeks amid the shutdown of government services. Ahead of the September employment report and the October government job report that will be due in a few weeks, expectations are that the Fed will unlikely embark on any tapering of its bond-purchasing program given the uncertainties surrounding the impact of the partial government shutdown and protracted fiscal debates on the U.S. economy.

In company news,   Hasbro  ( HAS) jumped 5.3% to $49.72 after it posted third-quarter earnings that beat estimates by two cents at $1.31 a share on revenue that exceeded expectations as international strength offset weakness in the U.S.

Netflix ( NFLX), the video streaming service, after Monday's closing bell reported third-quarter earnings of 52 cents a share on revenue of $1.11 billion. Analysts were expecting 47 cents a share on $1.1 billion in sales. Shares were surging more than 10% in after-hours trading. Shares of the company were the second best performer in the S&P 500 on Monday, adding more than 6.4%.

Apple ( AAPL) shares closed up 2.5% to $521.36 on the expectation that the tech company will introduce a thinner iPad and high-definition iPad mini on Tuesday.

First Solar ( FSLR) was the top mover in the benchmark S&P, up 7.8% to $53.87. The company this month agreed to construct a 250 megawatt AC solar power plant in California for a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources.

JPMorgan ( JPM) slipped 0.06% to $54.27 after the bank tentatively agreed to pay $13 billion to settle allegations surrounding the quality of mortgage-backed securities it sold in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

Gold for December delivery added $1.20 to settle at $1,315.80, while the November oil contract lost $1.59 to close at $99.22 a barrel. Monday marked the first time since July that WTI crude dipped below $100. Ten year Treasuries were losing 6/32 to boost the yield to 2.606% with the US dollar index edging up 0.11% to $79.70.

The FTSE in London gained 0.47% and the DAX in Germany was up 0.02%. The Nikkei 225 in Japan closed ahead by 0.91% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng finished higher by 0.42%.

--By Jane Searle and Joe Deaux in New York.

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