Markets & Finance

Stocks End Flat


Major stock indexes ended little changed on Monday as mixed corporate news gave investors an excuse to take a breather after last week's rally. Turnover and volatility

were low, according to Standard & Poor's MarketScope.

The Dow Jones industrial average was off 0.37 points to 10,715.76. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was off 1.31 points, or 0.11%, to 1,201.72. The Nasdaq composite index was off 4.63 points, or 0.22%, to 2,082.03.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, it will be a busy session on the earnings front. Scheduled to report are networking gear maker Cisco Systems (CSCO), tech outfit Computer Sciences (CSC), and lodging operator Marriott (MAR).

There are no major economic reports due out on Tuesday.

On the oil front, crude prices fell to $45.60 a barrel on Monday, as two key OPEC sources have said that pre-March meeting production cuts are unlikely, according to Informa Global Markets. Expectations for improved weather conditions in the U.S. Northeast are also pushing prices down, while news that Iraq would restart some oil exports in a few days is also at work, Informa says. The slide in oil prices failed to prompt gains in the broader equity market, and hurt energy stocks.

In earnings news on Monday, toy maker Hasbro (HAS) posted profit that fell short of expectations.

Aircraft parts maker Goodrich (GR) also posted higher earnings that fell short of expecations.

Lower results from health insurers WellPoint (WLP) and Humana (HUM) weighed on managed-care stocks Monday.

Consumer products maker Clorox (CLX) reported strong profit thanks to higher sales on strength across its portfolio of brands.

In other stocks news, The Wall Street Journal reported that Merck (MRK) records show a committee keeping an eye on the safety of arthritis drug Vioxx in a clinical trial had data indicating users of the medication could be at increased risk of heart problems.

Wal-Mart (WMT), the world's biggest retailer, said it sees February same-store sales increasing 2% to 4%.

Overall, the fourth quarter profit picture has been positive with stronger energy profits leading analysts to lift their overall fourth quarter profit growth estimate to almost 20% year over year.

Treasury Market

U.S. Treasuries traded slightly higher in price with the yield on the 10-year Treasury falling to 4.05%. arrival. Longer-dated Treasuries outperformed amid signs interest rates are likely to remain lower for a long time, and that the Fed will continued to tighten credit at a measured pace.

World Markets

European stock markets closed higher on Monday. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index rose 38.30 points, or 0.78%, to 4,979.80 with British American Tobacco leading tobacco stocks higher after a U.S. court late Friday said cigarette makers can't be forced to pay $280 billion in damages demanded by the government. Manchester United was higher on report American financier Malcolm Glazer made a third takeover bid. Emblaze was up after the company said its full-year net loss narrowed. EMI Group was lower after company cut its fiscal-year revenue forecast.

Germany's DAX index went up 27.07 points, or 0.62%, to 4,366.35. Allianz was higher after Morgan Stanley raised it recommendation on the stock to overweight from equal-weight.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index gained 23.89 points, or 0.60%, moving to 3,981.90. STMicroelectronics and Cap Gemini were higher on the stronger dollar and weaker euro, which helps exports. Lafarge was higher after its North American unit reported higher fourth quarter sales.

Asian markets finished higher on Monday. Japan's Nikkei average gained 139.46 points, or 1.23%, to close at 11,499.56, lifted by gains in technology stocks after U.S. peers rose on Friday. Matsushita Electric climbed almost 1% after revising up its full-year profit outlook while Advantest surged over 4%, mirroring gains in regional semiconductor names after U.S. semiconductor stocks leapt on Friday. Fujitsu jumped 3.15% after it said on Sunday it is in talks with Sharp to sell its money-losing LCD panel operations.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 209.83, or 1.54%, to close at 13,795.50 following a rally on Wall Street, but traders say activity is expected to thin ahead of Lunar New Year holidays this week.


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