The S&P 500 met tough overhead resistance on Monday as traders saw little reason to push up stock prices in the face of lingering geopolitical uncertainties that have weighed on equities recently.
The benchmark S&P 500 hovered near 1,333, a level it has been unable to close above since mid-February. That level is double the 12-year low hit in March 2009 and is not far from 1,344, the S&P's 2011 high and its highest since June 2008.
We have a lot of resistance right above and at the moment not enough reason to push through that resistance, said Frank Lesh, an analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading in Chicago. Overall, the market is performing quite well and we're holding in here.
On Friday, the S&P recorded its best two-week period since December, and the Dow industrials <.DJI> hit their highest intraday level since June 2008.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 10.52 points, or 0.08 percent, to 12,387.24. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose just 0.23 of a point, or 0.02 percent, to 1,332.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dipped 0.27 of a point, or 0.01 percent, to 2,789.34.
The lack of significant economic data on Monday, nuclear and other quake-related problems in Japan and unrest in Libya, Syria and other countries in the oil-rich region of North Africa and the Middle East could translate into low volume on Wall Street.
Last week was the lowest in volume so far in 2011.
Lesh said investors would likely stay cautious ahead of first-quarter earnings season that starts with Alcoa Inc
Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson in New York, said the S&P 500 could retake its yearly high this week.
I think the market has enough inertia and the retest of 1,344 is in store, he said. We're looking for a marginal new high on the S&P 500 setting you up for the next leg of the advance.
If you did have a breakout which failed, those false breakouts often lead to a fast move in the opposite direction. Ross said.
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(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Jan Paschal)