Stocks close mixed amid lackluster trading
Dow rises 23 points to close at highest level in 34 months. But stocks on Nasdaq edge down.
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Stocks closed mixed Monday with tech stocks lower after the market traded within a narrow range during much of a quiet session with the market at or near highs for the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 23.31 points, or 0.19 percent, to close at 12,400.03, the highest close since June 5, 2008. The blue-chip index started the second quarter solidly, closing higher on Friday amid optimism over a recovery in the labor market after data showed a drop in unemployment.
The S&P 500 rose 0.46 points, or 0.03 percent, to close at 1,332.87, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq down 0.41 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,789.19. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, rose above 17.
Among key S&P sectors, technology and financials fell, while materials andhealth care rose.
Trading was quiet ahead of a week short on economic data or significant earnings reports, with the New York Stock Exchange recording its lowest volume for the year. Only 3.3 billion shares traded on the consolidated tape of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, compared with an average daily volume this year of 4.46 bilion.
Investors also seemed reluctant to push stocks past current resistance levels. The Dow traded near its previous 2011 closing high of 12,291.25, while the S&P had trouble breaking beyond 1,333, which was double its intraday low during the financial crisis, and "still struggles to get to the previous high at 1,344," Elliot Spar, option/market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus, wrote in a note to clients. Spar said he would be "cautious" on the market if the S&P 500 moves lower than the 50-day moving average of 1,310.
Texas Instruments announced after the market closed that it agreed to acquire National Semiconductor for $6.5 billion or $25 a share in cash. Earlier, semiconductor stocks had led the tech sector lower, but they rose in after-market trading.
OmniVision Technologies, specifically, fell had fallen more than 7 percent during Monday's session after news Sony may be supplying semiconductor imaging components to Apple for the iPhone. OmniVision had supplied those components.
Other semiconductor firms were under pressure including AMD and Marvell after Nomura maintained a "neutral" view on the sector, citing weakened demand, peak gross margins and higher capital spending. The iShares PHLX SOX Semiconductor Sector Index Fund fell nearly 1 percent.
Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa continued to worry investors. Oil prices rose with U.S. light crude settling up 53 cents at $108.47 a barrel, its highest close since September 2008, reflecting concerns over supply. London Brent crude closed above $120 a barrel. Meanwhile, gold settled near $1,432 an ounce and silver rose to a 31-year high.