Miners, deal stocks, Apple in focus on Wall Street
NEW YORK • Mining companies and corporate deal stories were in focus Monday on an otherwise quiet day on the stock market.
Newmont Mining was the biggest gainer in the Standard & Poor's 500 index after the prices of gold and silver advanced. Gold rose for a fourth day on reports of increased demand from China. Silver gained the most in three weeks.
BlackBerry jumped after the struggling smartphone maker said it would consider a sale. Dole Foods rose after its CEO said he would take the company private and Steinway Musical Instruments gained after receiving a new buyout offer.
Stocks had opened lower at the start of the week after logging their biggest weekly loss in almost two months. By late morning the losses had been pared, and the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P remained marginally lower throughout the day.
The S&P 500 index fell 1.95 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 1,689.47. The Dow closed down 5.83 points, or less than 0.1 percent, at 15,419.68.
Technology stocks were the leading gainers in the S&P 500 and got a lift from Apple. The tech giant's stock rose $12.91, or 2.8 percent, to $467.30 after the blog AllThingsD said the company would release the latest version of its iPhone on Sept. 10.
The Nasdaq also benefited for Apple's advance, rising 9.84 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,669.95. The company makes up 7.9 percent of the index.
Stocks have been treading water this month as companies finished reporting earnings for the second quarter and investors considered when the Federal Reserve will start to ease back on its economic stimulus. The U.S. central bank is buying $85 billion a month to keep long-term interest rates low. Many analysts expect that it will start reducing those purchases as soon as next month.
The tepid August follows big gains for stocks for July, when the S&P 500 rose 5 percent, its best month since January.
Stocks climbed last month after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured investors that the Fed would only ease back on its stimulus once the economy is strong enough to handle it. The Fed's stimulus has been a major factor driving a bull market for stocks that has lasted more than four years.
Any pullback in stocks now is presenting investors with a buying opportunity, said Doug Cote, chief market strategist with ING U.S. Investment Management.
"There will be some near-term volatility, but it's a buying opportunity and a chance to get fully invested in the market," Cote said.
The S&P 500 is up 0.2 percent this month. For the year, it's up 18.5 percent.
Investors will get further clues about the strength of the economy this week when the U.S. Commerce Department publishes its July retail sales figures Tuesday. There will also be data on the housing market, industrial production and the Philadelphia Fed's survey of manufacturing on Thursday.
The market's reaction to the reports may be muted as many market participants are likely to be on vacation this week, said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds.
"When everybody is at the beach, it takes a louder bang to get the BlackBerries to start humming," Kelly said.
Sluggish economic growth figures from Japan, the world's third-largest economy, disappointed investors and weighed on the stock market in early trading.
The 2.6 percent annualized second-quarter growth rate recorded in Japan was below the 3.8 percent rate recorded in the first quarter and the 3.6 percent predicted by analysts. Japan's main stock index, the Nikkei, fell 0.7 percent on the news.
In commodities trading, the price of gold rose $22, or 1.7 percent, to $1,334.20 an ounce. Silver gained 93.2 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $21.34 an ounce.
Among mining stocks, Newmont Mining advanced $1.39, or 4.7 percent, to $30.90.
The price of oil fell 14 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $106.11 a barrel.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.62 percent from 2.58 percent Friday. The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.
In deal news, BlackBerry gained $1.02, or 10.5 percent, to $10.78. Steinway climbed $3.36, or 9.3 percent, to $39.59 after an investment firm topped an earlier offer from Kohlberg & Co. Dole rose 68 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $13.49, after the company's CEO said he would take the company private in a deal that values it at $2.1 billion.
Among other stocks making big moves:
Krispy Kreme rose $1.12, or 5.2 percent, to $22.52 after the stock was upgraded by an analyst at Janney Capital Markets on the expectation that the company will have stronger sales growth than previously expected.
Sysco, a food distributor, fell $2.02, or 5.8 percent, to $32.99 after the company said its net income fell 9 percent due to higher operating expenses and restructuring charges.
Vical plunged $2.05, or 57 percent, to $1.53 after the drug developer said its potential cancer treatment failed in a late-stage study and that it would shift its focus to infectious disease vaccines.