Stocks Finish Slightly Higher
Stocks finished with slight gains Monday as traders took profits after a mid-session rise, and oil prices pulled back from a jump earlier in the session.
"It looks like we have had another day when higher prices attracted sellers," says Standard & Poor's chief market analyst Paul Cherney.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17.07 points, or 0.16%, to 10,621.03. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 4.05 points, or 0.34%, to 1,190.24. The Nasdaq composite index gained 8.43 points, or 0.40%, to 2,097.04.
Oil futures finished down 10 cents to $45.33 a barrel Monday, pulling back from session highs of $47.30.
In economics news, U.S. wholesale trade sales rose 0.7% vs. the 1.6% boost in October, in line with expectations. Wholesale inventories rose 1.1%.
The economics report flow will be heavy later in the week. Topping the list is a reading on Friday on wholesale inflation in December. That number is seen increasing only 0.1% for the month vs. a 0.5% increase in the previous month. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the gauge is seen ticking up 0.2%, the same amount as in November. December retail sales are due out on Thursday. They are seen increasing 0.4% excluding auto sales vs. a 1.6% rise in the previous month.
Investors were greeted by a number of merger-related headlines on Monday. Telecom sector consolidation continued as rural carrier Alltel (NWS ) agreed to acquire Western Wireless (WWCA ) in a cash and stock deal.
News Corp. (NWS ) made a proposal to buy the remaining shares of Fox Entertainment (FOX ) it does not already own for 1.9 News Corp. shares per Fox share.
Video-rental company Movie Gallery (MOVI ) announced it would acquire Hollywood Entertainment (HLYW ) for $1.2 billion in cash and debt, a figure 15% higher than Blockbuster's (BBI ) December bid for the company. The move would make Movie Gallery the No. 2 video retailer after Blockbuster.
In other corporate news Monday, the New York State Attorney General's office stated that in its case against insurance giant Marsh & McLennan (MMC ), it intends to pursue criminal charges against the highest-level executives possible.
American Pharamaceutical Partners (APPX ) announced that the FDA approved the use of Abraxane, a breast-cancer drug the company developed with privately-held American Bioscience.
Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS ) announced it would cut its work force by about 40% as a part of its reorganization efforts.
Poultry company Pilgrim's Pride (PPC ) raised its first-quarter guidance, citing lower feed costs, and stronger-than-expected results in the prepared food division.
Goldman Sachs named WellPoint (WLP ) as a top pick in the managed care group, causing the stock to rise 3.4%.
In earnings news, aluminum giant and Dow component Alcoa (AA ) released its fourth-quarter earnings after the bell Monday. The company fell short of expectations, posting net income from continuing operations of 39 cents a share vs. 39 cents last year. The stock was down slightly in after-hours trading after declining in Monday's regular session.
Looking ahead this week, chip giant Intel (INTC ) reports on Tuesday, Apple Computer (AAPL ) releases results on Wednesday, followed by Sun Microsystems (SUNW ), the server maker, on Thursday.
Treasuries ended mixed Monday after the as-expected wholesale numbers, with shorter-dated issues little changed in price while the 30-year bond posted a small gain. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note finished at 4.27%.
The U.S. dollar corrected downward Monday after big gains Friday on bullish comments from Treasury Secretary John Snow projecting firm GDP and reiterating Bush Administration support for a strong greenback. Traders were keeping their eyes on the G-10 meeting, which began today. The euro ended at $1.302.
European stock markets closed lower Monday.
In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index lost 13.40 points, or 0.28%, to 4,840.70.
Germany's DAX index fell 9.03 points, or 0.21%, to 4,307.37.
In Paris, the CAC 40 index dropped .14 points, to 3,877.82.
The Japanese markets were closed Monday for a national holiday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 43.47 points, or 0.32%, to close at 13,531.39, amid worries that a flatter U.S. dollar may lead to an outflow of funds, according to Standard & Poor's MarketScope.