Stocks finished narrowly mixed Monday as trading was largely muted with no major economic news on tap and as investors hesitated to jump in after the recent rally, but the S&P 500 rose to touch a fresh all-time high.
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"Our next near term target for the S&P is in the 1640 to 1650 area. However, you could just as easily get a pullback to test the 1,600-1,597 level in the short-term," wrote Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus. "Those of you looking for 1,700 S&P by year-end should remember that from here it is only 5 percent. Thus, stock selection will be of the utmost importance if you want to outperform if we get the next 5 percent up in the S&P."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 5.07 points, to end at 14,968.89, after breaking above its major milestone of 15,000 for the first time last week. Merck led the Dow laggards, while Bank of America rallied. The blue-chip index traded in a narrow 47-point range, the tightest since last August.
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The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended below 13.
Among key S&P sectors, techs and financials led the gainers, while utilities lagged.
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"Many investors may be wondering if the current good performance of the U.S. stock market can continue without a significant correction," wrote Gary Thayer, chief macro strategist of Wells Fargo Advisors. "We believe it can in the short run. That's because the U.S. stock market has broken out of a broad trading range that has been held for about 16 years…the breakout to new record highs could gather more investor support as the U.S. market hits widely reported milestones along the way."
So far this year, the Dow has surged an impressive 14 percent, while the S&P and Nasdaq have soared more than 13 percent each.
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No major economic reports were reported Monday.
Bond insurer MBIA and Bank of America reached a settlement in an ongoing legal dispute, according to sources familiar with the matter. MBIA shares surged to their highest since September 2008, while Bank of America rallied to lead the Dow gainers.
Separately, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he is readying a lawsuit against Bank of America and Wells Fargo over their mortgage practices, according to the New York Times. Still, both stocks continued to trade higher.
BMC Software said it agreed to be acquired by a private equity group led by Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital for about $6.9 billion.
Apple rallied after Barclays raised its price target on the iPhone maker to $525 from $465.
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Walt Disney edged higher after Deutsche Bank lifted its price target on the conglomerate to $75 from $63 and Wunderlich boosted its price target to $63 from $58. Disney is scheduled to report earnings on Tuesday.
Berkshire Hathaway rose after the conglomerate post earnings and revenue that beat expectations late Friday and following the company's high profile annual meeting in Omaha over the weekend.
Macerich will replace Coventry Health Care in the S&P 500 after the close of trading Wednesday. Coventry is in the process of being acquired by Aetna and the deal is expected to be completed this week.
In Europe, shares ended off their lows after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said the central bank is closely watching incoming data and is ready to take further action if needed to address economic weakness.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
On Tap This Week:
TUESDAY: 3-yr note auction, consumer credit, Noka annual mtg; Earnings from HSBC, DirecTV, Discovery Comm., Walt Disney, Electronic Arts, Marathon Oil, Symantec, Trip Advisor, WholeFoods, Live Nation, WebMD, Zillow
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications, Fed's Stein speaks, oil inventories, 10-yr note auction, BofA shareholder mtg; Earnings from Toyota, Liberty Interactive, Liberty Media, AOL, Sodastream, Wendy's, Activision Blizzard, Green Mountain Coffee, Groupon, Monster BEverage, NewsCorp, Tesla Motors, Transocean
THURSDAY: BoE announcement, Fed's Lacker speaks, jobless claims, wholesale inventories, natural gas inventories, 30-yr bond auction, Fed's Plosser speaks, Fed balance sheet/money supply, Barclays's investor mtg, Ford annual mtg, weekly rail numbers, chain store sales; Earnings from Dean Foods, Dish Network, Sony, Nvidia, Priceline.com
FRIDAY: Fed's Evans speaks, Bernanke speaks, Fed's George speaks, Treasury budget, G-8 mtg; Earnings from ArcelorMittal, GoldFields
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