Stocks eke out gains; S&P 500 closes at fresh high, logs 4-day win streak
Stocks squeezed out small gains in lackluster trading Monday, with the S&P 500 closing at a new high, but a batch of mixed earnings reports and weaker-than-expected existing home sales weighed.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 1.81 points to end at 15,545.55, buoyed by Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. McDonald's led the blue-chip laggards. The Dow traded in a narrow 60-point range.
The S&P 500 logged a four-day rally, adding 3.44 to close at 1,695.53, posting a record closing high. The S&P 500 is on pace for its best monthly gain since October 2011. And the Nasdaq advanced 12.77 points to finish at 3,600.39.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, slid near 12.
Among key S&P sectors, financials led the gainers, while energy dipped.
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"The Fed is done talking until next week and we're going to be subject to earnings reports and talk from Congress this week," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. "We could be in a holding pattern if the market can resist a selloff, but to propel higher, we need better fundamentals…we're still running on Fed liquidity and the pullback caused by the tapering talk has been reversed in the last two weeks."
Gold surged to its highest level in nearly a year, piercing above a key resistance of $1,322 an ounce, as fears abated that the Federal Reserve will curb monetary easing. Gold miners rallied sharply, led by Kinross Gold, Yamana and Iamgold.
Dow component McDonald's fell after the fast-food giant posted earnings and revenue that disappointed Wall Street expectations, weighed by weak sales in Europe and Asia.
Toymaker Hasbro reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings, citing a shift by young boys to iPads and other electronic devices from traditional toys and action figures. Last week, larger rival Mattel missed earnings expectations and smaller toymaker Jakks Pacific lowered its full-year outlook.
Gannett slumped after the parent company of USA Today posted total quarterly sales that matched expectations, as advertising revenue at newspapers continued to show no signs of improvement.
Halliburton ended lower even after the oilfield services company topped earnings expectations and increased its share buyback program by $4.3 billion.
More than 20 percent of S&P 500 companies have already reported, with 64 percent topping earnings estimates and 50 percent beating on sales, according to the latest data from Thomson Reuters. If all remaining companies post earnings in line with forecasts, earnings will be up 3.1 percent from last year's second quarter.
Nearly one third of S&P 500 companies due to report results throughout the week in addition to eight Dow components. Apple,Caterpillar, Boeing, Facebook, Qualcomm and Amazon.com are among notable names on tap to report throughout the week.
Yahoo dropped to lead the S&P 500 laggards after the Internet company said it will repurchase 40 million shares of its common stock beneficially owned by Third Point at $29.11 a share and that three directors nominated by Third Point have submitted their resignations.
Apple ticked higher after BMO lifted its target price on the iPhone maker to $480 from $450 with a "market perform" rating.
On the economic front, existing home sales in June slipped 1.2 percent in June to an annual rate of 5.08 million, according to the National Association of Realtors, missing expectations for a reading of 5.25 million units. Still, the reading was still the second-highest level of sales since November 2009.
Meanwhile, NAR's chief economist Lawrence Yun warned that while momentum in the housing market appears to be strong, mortgage rates will have a greater impact on sales in the coming months. He also cautioned that the continuing increase in home prices was unsustainable.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
On Tap This Week:
TUESDAY: FHFA home price index, Richmond Fed mfg index, 2-yr note auction, Silicon Valley innovation summit, new Verizon Droid unveiled; Earnings from Altria, DuPont, Travelers, United Tech, UPS, Apple, AT&T, Broadcom, Discover Financial, Electronic Arts
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications, PMI mfg index, new home sales, oil inventories, 5-yr note auction, Dell shareholder mtg, Google breakfast; Earnings from Boeing, Caterpillar, Eli Lilly, Ford, GlaxoSmithKline, PepsiCo, Facebook, Qualcomm, Visa, Akamai, Baidu
THURSDAY: Durable goods orders, jobless claims, natural gas inventories, Kansas City Fed mfg index, 7-yr note auction, Fed balance sheet/money supply, weekly rail numbers, USDA food prices outlook; Earnings from Bristol-Myers, GM, 3M, Colcate-Palmolive, Credit Suisse, Sirius XM, Amazon.com, Gilead Sciences, Starbucks, Zynga
FRIDAY: Consumer sentiment, AT&T Next debuts; Earnings from Tyco
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