U.S. stocks were little moved on Monday, with the S&P 500 recording a 42nd record close of the year, as comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi helped offset data that unexpectedly showed Japan’s economy in a recession.
“This global uneven economic activity probably means that central banks are going to stay the course and that remains favorable for the equity markets,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital
Wall Street’s “initial slight sell off was due to the surprise out of Japan, that Japan’s economy contracted. That basically caused the U.S. market to follow global markets,” said Cardillo of a report that had Japan’s economy contracting 1.6 percent in the last quarter instead of the expected 2.1 percent gain.
Words voiced by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi briefly helped soothe concerns about the global economy, with stocks taking a temporary turn higher in the wake of his comments to the European Union’s Parliament, with the ECB head saying the central bank’s governing council remained “unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional instruments if needed.”
Draghi “is once again reassuring the markets that if more stimulus is needed, they will take unconventional methods,” said Cardillo.
Baker Hughes surged after Halliburton Co. agreed to buy its rival in oilfield services. Allergan rose after Actavis said it would acquire the Botox maker for $219 a share in cash and stock. Halliburton and others in the oil business fell along with the price of crude, with shares of Denbury Resources leading declines on the S&P 500 after saying it would cut its 2015 capital spending in half.
Monday’s U.S. economic reports had industrial production falling 0.1 percent in October, compared to expectations for a 0.2 percent gain.
Separate data had manufacturing activity in New York state rising in November, bouncing back from the prior month’s read.
The S&P 500 added 1.5 point, or nearly 0.1 percent, to 2,041.32, with energy falling the most and utilities faring the best among its 10 major industry groups.
Halting a five-session win streak, its longest since August, the Nasdaq dropped 17.54 points, or roughly 0.4 percent, to 4,67100.
Decliners outdid advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where 691 million shares traded. Composite volume cleared 3.1 billion.
The U.S. dollar gained against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and dollar-denominated commodities including oil and gold fell, with crude for December delivery down 16 cents at $75.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The December gold contract fell $2.10, or 0.2 percent, to $1,183.50 an ounce.
The yield on the U.S. Treasury note used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans rose 2 basis points to 2.3417 percent.