Stocks close mixed; energy weighs

U.S. stocks closed mixed Monday in low volume trade as investors eyed oil prices and awaited data and comments from key Fed policymakers due later in the week. ( Tweet This )

The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 closed mildly higher while the Nasdaq composite ended lower.

The major averages steadied after a knee-jerk reaction to afternoon reports of gunshots in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. One person was in custody and injuries were limited. The situation returned to normal relatively quickly.

"I certainly think it had some of an impact but nothing too crazy," said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities.

The Dow transports closed 0.85 percent lower, off session lows but posting a five-day losing streak for the first time since August 2015. Energy and utilities were the greatest decliners in the S&P 500.

Fed Chair "Janet Yellen is going to speak tomorrow. We're kind of in limbo until then," said John Caruso, senior market strategist at RJO Futures.

Yellen is due to speak midday Tuesday and investors await indications on when the Fed could next raise rates. Thursday marks the end of the quarter, while the jobs report and ISM manufacturing data are expected Friday.

"I think we're in a holding pattern. The big thing this week will be the employment number," said Tom Cassidy, chief investment officer at Univest Wealth Management.

Major averages year-to-date

The major averages opened higher but struggled to hold those gains, trading in a range throughout the session.

As of the close, trade volume across the exchanges was on pace for the lowest of the year so far. Last week saw three of the lowest volume days of 2016.

U.S. crude oil futures trimmed losses to settle 0.2 percent lower at $39.39 a barrel.

"I think today the key is, as (long as) oil doesn't collapse here we should be fine," Klein said earlier.

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Consumer discretionary stocks led S&P 500 advancers in afternoon trade. Shares of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International were among the top gainers in that sector following news China's Anbang Insurance has raised its offer for Starwood to almost $14 billion, in the latest challenge to the U.S. hotel operator's merger with Marriott, Reuters said.

Boeing and Microsoft were the greatest contributors to declines in the Dow Jones industrial average, while 3M contributed the most to gains.

The Nasdaq composite failed to hold gains as declines in Microsoft, Apple and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) offset gains in Kraft Heinz, Gilead Sciences and Facebook.

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals dropped 7 percent after news the firm's CEO has been summoned to testify at a U.S. congressional hearing on April 27, Reuters said. The firm is under scrutiny for significant drug price hikes. Last week, Valeant said CEO Michael Pearson would step down.

The major U.S. averages ended five straight weeks of gains on Thursday and were closed Friday for Good Friday.

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In economic news, consumer spending edged up 0.1 percent in February, after January's figure was revised lower to show a 0.1 percent gain versus the previously reported 0.5 percent rise. Personal income rose 0.2 percent.

Excluding food and energy, prices gained 0.1 percent after advancing 0.3 percent in January. In the 12 months through February, the so-called core PCE price index increased 1.7 percent after a similar increase in January, Reuters said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce also said the advance February goods trade deficit was $62.86 billion.

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The trade gap, wider than most expectations, and the downward revision in January consumption prompted several cuts to first-quarter GDP estimates.

Barclays lowered its first-quarter GDP tracking estimate to 0.9 percent, while Goldman Sachs cut its estimate to 1.7 percent.

The U.S. dollar index fell for the first time in six sessions. The index turned lower after the morning data to hold about 0.2 percent lower, with the euro near $1.12 and the yen at 113.42 yen against the greenback.

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"People are looking at this data, have now rolled back expectations on GDP," said Jason Leinwand, managing director at Riverside Risk Advisors.

However, he said the pullback in the dollar is likely temporary. "I think the Fed speak is more important than ... one data point," he said.

Treasury yields held lower, with the 2-year yield at 0.87 percent and the 10-year yield at 1.89 percent.

The Treasury Department auctioned $26 billion in two-year notes at a high yield of 0.877 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 2.58.

Early on Monday ET, San Francisco Fed President John Williams told CNBC the U.S. economy was doing "quite well" and that global developments are preventing the United States from returning to normalized interest rates.

Fed officials have recently commented on the possibility of a rate hike as soon as next month, after central bank policymakers lowered projections for the number of hikes this year to two.

In other economic news, the National Association of Realtors said its pending home sales index rose 3.5 percent to 109.1 last month, the highest level in seven months. January's reading was revised to show a 3.0 percent decline, which was deeper than initially reported, Reuters said.

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While U.S. markets were closed for Good Friday, the Commerce Department's third GDP estimate for the fourth quarter showed an annual growth rate of 1.4 percent instead of the previously reported 1.0 percent pace.

However, corporate profits declined for a second-straight quarter and fell 5.1 percent for all of 2015, their largest drop since 2008, Reuters said. Profits fell 0.6 percent in 2014.

European markets are closed for Easter Monday. Hong Kong markets also remain closed until Tuesday.

Asian markets were mixed Monday, with the Nikkei 225 higher and the Shanghai composite slightly lower.

Over the weekend, China's National Bureau of Statistics said industrial profits for the country ended a seven-month decline with a 4.8 percent year-over-year increase in January and February combined, according to Reuters.

Separately, the private China Beige Book survey released Sunday said profits in the first quarter improved from the lows of the previous quarter, but hiring growth slowed. The data also showed just 33 percent of firms reported an increase in capital expenditure, the smallest proportion in the survey's five-year history.

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The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 19.66 points, or 0.11 percent, at 17,535.39, with General Electric the top advancer and Microsoft leading decliners.

The S&P 500 closed up 1.11 points, or 0.05 percent, at 2,037.05, with consumer discretionary leading six sectors higher and utilities the greatest laggard.

The Nasdaq composite closed down 6.72 points, or 0.14 percent, at 4,766.79.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, held near 15.

About three stocks advanced for every two decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 706 million and a composite volume of nearly 2.8 billion.

Gold futures for April delivery settled down $1.50 at $1,220.10 an ounce.

Reuters contributed to this report.

On tap this week:

Tuesday

5:15 a.m.: San Francisco Fed President John Williams

9 a.m.: S&P/Case-Shiller home prices

10 a.m.: Consumer confidence

12:20 p.m.: Fed Chair Janet Yellen at Economic Club of New York

1 p.m.: $34 billion 5-year note auction

1 p.m.: Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan

4 p.m.: Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan

Wednesday

8:15 a.m.: ADP employment

1 p.m.: $28 billion 7-year note auction

Thursday

8:30 a.m.: Jobless claims

9:30 a.m.: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans

9:45 a.m.: Chicago PMI

5 p.m.: New York Fed President William Dudley

Friday

March vehicle sales

8:30 a.m.: Employment report

9:45 a.m.: Manufacturing PMI

10 a.m.: ISM manufacturing

10 a.m.: Construction spending

10 a.m.: Consumer sentiment

1 p.m.: Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester

*Planner subject to change.

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