Story was updated at 4:30 p.m. EDT.
U.S. stocks closed flat Monday as investors paused ahead of a Federal Open Market Committee meeting and a raft of important U.S. company earnings that will set the tone for the rest of the third-quarter earnings season. Meanwhile, U.S. new home sales data released Monday mornings showed the lowest demand in a year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) lost 23.65 points, or 0.13 percent, to 17,623. The S&P 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) declined by 3.97 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,071. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) gained a slight 2.84 points, or 0.06 percent, to 5,035.
Three out of 10 S&P 500 sectors closed up slightly Monday, led by consumer discretionary goods and health care stocks. Energy stocks led declines, dropping more than 2.5 percent on Monday. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) led declines among the 30 Dow components with a 3.19 percent drop to $115.28. Apple will report its latest quarterly earnings on Tuesday after markets close.
Key Asian markets closed modestly up on their first trading day after China’s announcement Friday it was cutting interest rates and loosening bank currency reserve ratios in order to spur growth. The Shanghai Composite Index ended the day up 17.15 points, or 0.50 percent to 3,430. Honk Kong’s Hang Sen closed down slightly while shares on the Tokyo Nikkei 225 were lifted on positive earnings from Panasonic Corporation (TYO:6752) and Hitachi Ltd. (TYO:6501).
European shares closed mixed on Monday, with France’s CAC 40 down 0.54 percent and London’s FTSE down 0.42 percent. The German DAX shed its mid-day gains to close up a slight 0.06 percent after a widely watched monthly report from Ifo showed a decline in business confidence that wasn’t as bad as expected by economists.
The seventh Federal Open Markets Committee meeting of 2015 will begin Tuesday. Investors will look to the results of the meeting on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT for further clues to when the U.S. will begin raising interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. The FOMC minutes will include brief comments from the Fed and how many committee members voted for or against a rate change. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will have to take a harder stance if she wants to convince Fed governors to begin raising rates in December. Signals of a global slowdown and lackluster third-quarter performance from big U.S. companies could delay the rate hike.
The U.S. Commerce Department said Monday sales of new single-family homes hit a one-year low in September following two consecutive monthly gains. Sales dropped 11.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 468,000 units, the lowest level since November 2014. August’s number was adjusted downward to 529,000 units from 552, 000. New home sales tend to swing from month to month, and September data on existing home sales and builder confidence remained strong.
Oil prices edged lower on Monday as the industry continues to hurt from a global supply glut. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark for oil prices, fell 1.75 percent to $43.82 per barrel for December delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On the London ICE Futures Exchange, Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, fell 1.17 percent to $47.43.
Xerox Corp. (NYSE:XRX) reported on Monday morning lower-than-expected revenue and a profit miss amid turmoil in market for printers and copiers as companies increasingly go paperless and embrace digitized documentation. Company shares were up slightly in pre-market trading after the company said it would review cost-cutting measures. Xerox stock is down by more than a fourth since the start of the year.
Piedmont Natural Gas Company Inc. (NYSE:PNY) stocks rallied by nearly 37 percent on Monday, to $56.85, after Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK), the nation’s largest power utility based on generation capacity, said Monday it was acquiring Piedmont for $4.9 billion in cash. The move will expand Duke’s natural-gas distribution network. Both companies are based in North Carolina.
Stocks in BioDelivery Sciences International Inc. (NASDAQ:BDSI) rallied Monday after the company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the North Carolina specialty drugmaker’s opioid-based chronic pain reliever.
Shares in Pep Boys-Manny Moe and Jack (NYSE:PBY), the Philadelphia-based auto parts and service company, leaped by more than 23 percent, to $14.98, after the Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone Corp. (TYO:5108) said it was acquiring Pep Boys for $835 million in cash.