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.