This story was updated at 4:20 p.m. EDT.
U.S. stocks eked out slight gains Monday as investors try to determine the direction equities will be moving after stocks tipped positive for the year last week. What was initially one of the worst starts to U.S. stocks on record has turned possibly into one of the strongest first quarters since 1933. Disappointing monthly U.S. home sales data released Monday put pressure on stocks earlier in the day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) closed up 21.57 points, or 0.12 percent, to 17,623.87. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 2.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,051.60. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) edged up 13.23 points, or 0.28 percent, to 4,808.87.
The Dow is up 1.1 percent and the S&P is up 0.4 percent for the year. The Nasdaq is still down nearly 4 percent in the same period of time.
U.S. and other global markets will be closed for Good Friday. Some high-profile macroeconomic data due out this week include preliminary data on U.S. manufacturing for the month on Tuesday, U.S. new home sales on Wednesday, preliminary data on the U.S. services sector on Thursday and the final revision to fourth quarter U.S. gross domestic product on Friday.
Private sector data released Monday morning showed that existing home sales fell 7.1 percent to 5.08 million last month compared to January, its lowest level since November. The results were well below economists’ forecast of a 2.8 percent decline to 5.32 million units. The data weighed on investor sentiments, though the Dow recovered from a 40-point drop after the data was released by the National Association of Realtors.
Oil prices started the week lower on profit-taking following a strong two-day rally last week but tipped back into the green by the opening bell in New York.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate was up 1.19 percent to $39.91 after topping $40 last week for the first time since early December. Brent crude, the other major global oil-price benchmark, rose 1.07 percent to $41.64.
The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury rose to 1.92 percent early Monday from Friday’s settlement yield of 1.88 percent. The bond yield typically rises when investors are more confident about the markets and falls when concerns flare and demand for U.S. debt increases. Gold, another so-called safe harbor investment, fell 0.77 percent to $1,244.60 per troy ounce. Gold prices tend to rise as confidence in the markets falls.
European shares were lower after the U.S. dollar rebounded from a five-month low hit last week, and oil prices dipped lower earlier in the trading session before rebounding slightly by the time markets opened in New York.
The broad pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 closed 0.33 percent lower Monday. The Paris-based CAC 40 dropped 0.78 percent while London’s FTSE lost 0.08 percent. Frankfurt’s DAX was down 0.02 percent.
Asian stocks were mixed Monday as investors watched oil prices drop, but shares in China saw a late rally after China Securities Finance Corp., the state-owned lender to companies that trade stocks, announced it would boost lending to brokerages in a bid to counter a recent slump in mainland markets. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.
China’s broad CSI 300 Index of the mainland’s largest companies closed up 2.44 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ticked up a slight 0.06 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.32 percent. South Korea’s main Kospi Index shed 0.12 percent.