The string of mixed economic news follows last week's GDP report that showed U.S. economic growth cooled in the first quarter, bolstering the Federal Reserve's case that interest rates should be kept near zero at least though late 2014.
“I’m more of the opinion that we’re going to see the Fed pause for some time just to see where the data points run before they feel inclined to come to the rescue, but the market seems to continue to be teased by the hopes that we’re going to see [more QE] so I think we’ll see a floor under equity prices,” added Luschini.
Spain fell back into technical recessionbut the figure for first-quarter economic performance was better than expected. This comes after Standard & Poor's downgraded the country's sovereign debt last week lowered the credit rating of 16 Spanish banks. European shares finished lower.
Barnes & Noble skyrocketed after Microsoft said it will invest $300 millionin the bookstore chain's digital and college businesses. The new deal will give Microsoft a 17.6 percent stake in the new unit.
Rival Amazon.com gained, while Apple tumbled more than 3 percent to close below $585 a share.
Delta Airlines said it has closed a deal to purchase a ConocoPhillips refinery in Pennsylvania for $180 million.
Sunoco soared to lead the S&P 500 gainers after Energy Transfer Partners announced it will acquire the oil companyin a cash and stock deal worth $5.3 billion in an aim to focus on transporting more crude oil and refined products on the heels of declining natural gas prices.
Among other M&A news, Gen-Probe surged after Hologic said it would buy the biotech company in a deal worth about $3.75 billion to expand its diagnostic business.
And Pall Corp said it will sell some of its blood collection, filtration and processing product lines to Haemonetics for about $550 million.
China Eastern Airlines said it has agreed to buy 20 new Boeing B777-300ER aircrafts valued at $5.94 billion based on the 2011 price catalogue.
In earnings news, NYSE Euronext said its profits fell by almost a third in the first quarter due to a difficult trading environment and costs from its failed merger with Deutsche Boerse.
Scholastic boosted its earnings forecast, thanks by stronger-than-expected sales of the Hunger Games following the film's release. Still, shares of the children's publisher erased its earlier gains to end lower.
Anadarko Petroleum and Shutterfly are scheduled to post earnings after the closing bell.
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Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: ISM mfg index, construction spending, auto sales, Under Armour shareholders mtg; Earnings from BP, Pfizer, Sirius XM Radio, Broadcom, CBS, Chesapeake Energy, Motorola Mobility
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, Challenger job-cut report, ADP employment report, factory orders, oil inventories, Pepsi shareholders mtg; Earnings from Comcast, Time Warner, UBS, Barrick Gold, Clorox, CVS, Marathon Oil, MasterCard, Dreamworks Animation, Green Mountain Coffee, Sunoco, Transocean, Visa, Whole Foods
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, productivity and costs, ISM non-mfg index, chain-store sales, Nokia annual mtg, Verizon shareholders mtg; Earnings from GM, Kraft, AIG, LinkedIn
FRIDAY: Government non-farm payrolls, Alcoa shareholders mtg, Berkshire shareholders mtg; Earnings from Berkshire Hathaway
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