Wait and See: Stock Indexes Mixed Ahead of a Jam-Packed Week

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stock indexes were stuck in a holding pattern Monday at the beginning of a week full of events that could swing markets. The Federal Reserve may raise interest rates, more countries around the world may move to shake up the economic status quo and several high-profile updates on the U.S. economy are coming out this week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was virtually flat at 2,372, as of noon Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,883. The Nasdaq rose 10 points, or 0.2 percent to 5,871. Five stocks rose for every three that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

FED FOCUS: Most investors expect the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates at its upcoming meeting, which ends on Wednesday. It would be only the third increase since the central bank slashed rates to a record low of nearly zero during the financial crisis in 2008.

Usually, rising interest rates are bad news for stocks because they make borrowing more expensive and can put the brakes on economic growth. But many analysts say this time it may be different. As long as the pace of increases is gradual, these moves will only be getting interest rates back to normal rather than restricting the economy.

ACTION ABROAD: The Fed isn’t the only central bank meeting on interest rates this week. So are the Bank of England, Bank of Japan and others around the world.

Many economists expect the Bank of England to hold steady, but another action in London could garner even more attention. The government could formally begin the process of exiting the European Union. The U.K. voted to leave the union last summer, one of a growing number of populations around the world trying to throw off the status quo.

The Netherlands has its own election this week, where politicians have also railed against the European Union and immigrants. Later this year, elections will also occur in France and Germany.

OTHER U.S. UPDATES: Several big U.S. economic reports are also on deck this week, including updates on inflation and retail sales. Reports have been showing improvements across the economy, from the job market to optimism among businesses and shoppers. Continued gains would encourage the Fed to continue to raise interest rates gradually, though a quick burst higher in inflation or another surprise could upset things.

GOLDEN: Mobileye, an Israeli autonomous-driving company, agreed to sell itself to Intel for $63.54 per share in cash. Its U.S.-listed shares surged $13.93, or 29.5 percent, to $61.20. Intel slipped 82 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $35.09.

INDEXED OUT: Frontier Communications fell 10 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $2.47 for the largest loss in the S&P 500. S&P Dow Jones Indices said on Friday that it will remove Frontier from the S&P 500 index of large stocks and put it in the S&P 400 index of mid-cap stocks instead.

Urban Outfitters and First Solar are also set to leave the S&P 500 just before trading begins on March 20, and their stocks likewise fell.

CRUNCHED: Del Taco Restaurants fell 44 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $12.15 after giving a forecast for 2017 revenue and earnings that fell short of analysts’ expectations.

CHECKING ITS OPTIONS: Pharmaceutical company Cempra rose 15 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $3.75 after it said it hired Morgan Stanley to help it figure out how to best use its cash.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.1 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent and Germany’s DAX rose 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.1 percent, South Korea’s Kospi rose 1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 1.1 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar largely held steady against its rivals. It dipped to 114.68 Japanese yen from 114.78 yen late Friday. The euro fell to $1.0666 from $1.0692.

YIELDS: Bond price fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.60 percent from 2.58 percent. The two-year yield ticked up to 1.36 percent from 1.35 percent, while the 30-year yield rose to 3.19 percent from 3.16 percent.

COMMODITIES: The price of a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 17 cents to $48.32. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 9 cents to $51.46 a barrel in London.

Gold rose $3.30 to $1,204.70 an ounce, silver rose ten cents to $17.02 an ounce and copper rose four cents to $2.63 a pound.

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