RTTNews - After giving back their early gains, stocks are turning in a mixed performance in mid-afternoon trading on Monday. The major averages are nearly unchanged, as a lack of substantive catalysts has equities struggling to maintain significant moves.

Earlier, traders looked to comments from a number of central bankers over the weekend at the Federal Reserve conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, indicating that interest rates are likely to remain fixed for some time despite some signs of economic stabilization.

At the conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, Economic activity appears to be leveling out, both in the United States and abroad. Bernanke also noted that the prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good.

Some traders remain cautious, however, as economist Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the magnitude of the recent financial troubles, said that he sees a big risk of a double recession in an article for the Financial Times.

Roubini stated that the global economy might bottom out in the second half of the year and that the economies in the U.S and other European countries might witness anemic or below trend growth for at least a couple of years.

Automakers are also in focus today following the announcement by the U.S administration that the popular cash for clunkers program will be drawn to a close today.

In other news, conflicting reports have led to speculation over the health of Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the largest ponzi scheme in history, who may be dying of cancer at a federal prison in North Carolina. However, prison officials have refuted the cancer claim that a number of media outlets reported earlier.

The major averages are currently all lingering near the unchanged line, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq posting a modest loss. While the Nasdaq is down 0.43 at 2,020.47, the Dow is up 8.08 at 9,514.04 and the S&P 500 is up 0.25 at 1,026.38.

Dow Components

The Dow components are roughly split, contributing to the lack of conviction being shown by the blue chip index in mid-afternoon trading.

Shares of Boeing (BA) are seeing notable strength, posting a gain of 2.6 percent on the day. The day's gain has propelled the stock to its best intra-day level in two months.

Oil giants Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) are up by 1.5 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, benefiting from an increase by the price of oil. Exxon has broken out to a one-month intraday high, while Chevron reached a two-month intraday high.

Caterpillar (CAT), United Technologies (UTX) and Microsoft (MSFT) are also moving higher by comparable margins, while Coca-Cola (KO) is turning in a disappointing performance, sliding by 2.1 percent. With the decline, Coca-Cola is pulling back off the one-month closing high set on Friday.

Shares of Kraft (KFT) and Home Depot (HD) are also moving lower, slipping by 1.5 percent each, although they remain stuck in roughly one-month trading ranges.

Sector News

While most of the major sector indices have backed off of their early gains, notable strength remains visible among tobacco and steel stocks.

The NYSE Arca Tobacco Index and the NYSE Arca Steel Index are both up by 1.3 percent. The tobacco index is poised to close at its best level in nearly eleven months, while the steel index has been lingering near a comparable high.

While oil service, airline and electronic storage stocks have also been able to hold onto some of their gains, railroad stocks have moved firmly into negative territory. The Dow Jones Railroads Index is down by 1.2 percent, backing off of the ten-month closing high set on Friday.

Networking and gold stocks are also retreating, although by more modest margins. The pullback by gold stocks comes as the price of the precious metal turned lower over the course of the trading day.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed notably higher on Monday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 3.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 1.7 percent.

The major European markets also saw strong gains, with the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both rising by 0.8 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index gained 1 percent.

In the bond markets, treasuries are showing some strength on the day amid the lack of conviction on Wall Street. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note is trading at 3.494 percent, posting a loss of 6.2 basis points.

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