A listless day on Wall Street ended Monday with major indexes closing little changed as modest gains from earlier in the afternoon faded in the final minutes of trading.
The S&P 500 index slipped less than 0.1%, while the Nasdaq inched 0.1% lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average notched a 0.1% gain. The stock indexes spent most of the afternoon holding on to slight gains following a wobbly morning in the market as investors digested some weak economic figures out of Germany.
Losses in the health care, communication services and industrial sectors outweighed gains in technology stocks, consumer-centric companies and banks. Bond yields declined, a sign that investors were seeking to avoid some risk.
The S&P 500 inched 0.29 points lower, or less than 0.1%, to 2,991.78. The Dow gained 14.92 points, or 0.1%, to 26,949.99. The Nasdaq fell 5.21 points, or 0.1%, to 8,112.46. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies lost 1.52 points, or 0.1%, to 1,558.25.
The major indexes are each up modestly for the month and the quarter. The benchmark S&P 500 index remains close to its all-time high set in late July.
Bond prices rose, pulling down the yield on 10-year Treasury notes to 1.72% from 1.75% late Friday.
Markets have rallied this month as investors welcomed steps by Washington and Beijing to ease tensions in advance of their next round of talks next month. That’s fueled speculation among investors that the two countries may at least reach an interim deal on trade.
But prospects for a trade war resolution appeared to cool once again late last week following comments by President Donald Trump that he doesn’t necessarily need to make a deal before the next U.S. elections in 2020.
Nike, which could be a gauge of the trade war’s effect on shoemakers and retailers, will report fiscal first quarter results on Tuesday. Technology company Micron will report its fiscal fourth quarter results on Thursday.
Meanwhile, oil prices and the energy sector could experience more volatility this week as Mr. Trump takes seeks a coalition to confront Iran, which the U.S. blames for last week’s strike on a Saudi Arabian oil facility.
Health care stocks were the biggest laggards Monday. UnitedHealth Group slid 1.8% and Medical supply company McKesson dropped 2.6%.
Netflix was among the big decliners in the communication services sector. The stock fell 1.8%.
Chipmakers were big winners in tech stocks. Nvidia rose 1.2% and Qualcomm gained 1%. Traders also bid up shares in several retailers and restaurant chains. Target climbed 2% and McDonald’s rose 1%.
Utilities showed small gains. Investors typically shift to that sector and bonds when they are seeking safer places to put their money amid worries about economic growth.
Benchmark crude oil rose 55 cents to settle at $58.64 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 49 cents to close at $64.77 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $1.68 per gallon. Heating oil climbed 1 cent to $2.00 per gallon. Natural gas was unchanged at $2.53 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold rose $16.40 to $1,523.70 per ounce, silver rose 86 cents to $18.60 per ounce and copper remained at $2.59 per pound.