Wall Street flat as investors seek growth catalysts

  • Business
  • Monday, 21 Mar 2016

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK: Wall Street was little changed on Monday as investors sought fresh catalysts for stocks to add to a five-week rally sparked by the central bank action, recovering oil prices and encouraging economic data.

Crude prices rose slightly, even as uncertainty remains about major exporters reaching an agreement to freeze production and signs of US producers increasing drilling activity.

The US Federal Reserve’s accommodative move last week to cut the number of expected rate hikes this year to two was the latest among a slew of measures by central banks to support growth and calm the turmoil in global financial markets.

The S&P 500 on Friday turned positive for the first time in 2016, closing up 0.25%, recovering from a more than 10 percent fall earlier in the year.

“While ... there’s no obvious profit driver out there, we haven’t gotten any news to derail the rally we’ve had since the Feb. 11 lows,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

At 9:38am ET (1339 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 10.62 points, or 0.06%, at 17,591.68, the S&P 500 was down 1.44 points, or 0.07%, at 2,048.14 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.25 points, or 0.03%, at 4,796.90.

The S&P energy sector was down 0.74%, while financials led the gainers, rising 0.22%.

Investors will now look for signs that the US economy continues to recover, with expectations for corporate earnings improving and commodity prices edging up, even as weak global conditions casts a pall on sentiment.

Data on Monday includes US existing home sales, which are expected to have dropped 2.2% in February. The report is due at 10am ET (1400 GMT).

Shares of Starwood were up 4% at US$83.76 after the Sheraton hotel owner accepted a higher offer from Marriott that beat an all-cash offer by a group led by China’s Anbang Insurance Group. (Click here to read story)

Marriott was down 1.4% at US$72.15.

IHS was up 6.4% at US$117.65 after the US business research provider said it would buy London-based Markit in an all-stock deal valued at about US$5.9bil. (Click here to read story)

Markit’s Nasdaq-listed shares were up 7% at US$31.56.

Nike was up 1.6% at $63.99 after JP Morgan raised its price target and added the stock to its focus list, replacing Lululemon, which fell 3.8% to US$60.09.

Valeant was up 5% at US$28.39, after the beleaguered drugmaker said it had started a search for a new chief executive and that Bill Ackman had joined the board.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,449 to 1,171. On the Nasdaq, 1,170 issues fell and 1,119 rose.

The S&P 500 index showed four new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 10 new highs and one new low. - Reuters

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