Stocks Struggle After Homebuilder Report

Stocks bobbed Monday as banks and homebuilders weakened after a report showed a drop in homebuilder confidence.

Stocks has started the day higher after a report showed U.S. firms have increased their hiring plans.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average swung between positive and negative territory after losing 1 percent last week.

Alcoa, Intel and IBM were among the early leaders, while Bank of America and JPMorgan fell.

A gauge of homebuilder sentiment fell to 14 in July, its lowest level in more than a year, the National Association of Home Builders reported.

Earlier, the National Association for Business Economics said 31 percent of businesses added workersbetween April and June, the highest level in three years, according to its latest survey. And 39 percent of those surveyed said they plan to hire more workers in the next six months — the most since January 2008.

Still, while companies grow more optimistic, consumer sentiment has fallen to its lowest level in nearly a year.

European shares struggled to make gains after Moody's downgraded Irish government bonds by one notch, to Aa2 from Aa1, due to a deteriorating economic outlook. Meanwhile, news that talks between Hungary and the IMF and EU over an existing assistance program broke down over the weekend also weighed on sentiment. Hungarian markets were hit hard by the news.

Apple shares fell after the company last week said it would give iPhone 4 customers a free caseto help correct a glitch that causes calls to be dropped.

BP shares slid following reports that engineers detected some seepage near BP's sealed oil well. For now, BP is being allowed to keep the well sealed while further tests are conducted. BP shares ended sharply lower in New York trading Friday and were off 1.3 percent in premarket trading.

At the Farnborough Airshow, Boeing secured an order from Emirates Airways for 30 777 jets with a potential value of more than $9 billion. And rival EADS unit, Airbus, received an order for 51 A320 jets from Air Lease Corp.

And published reports say Motorola is close to selling its wireless equipment divisionto Nokia Siemens for $1.2 billion.

In this morning's earnings news, Delta Airlines swung to a profit but revenue missed its target.

Oil-services provider Halliburtonsurprised to the upsidebut investors remained worried that the company could get hit later in the year from a ban on deepwater drilling in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

After the bell today, earnings are due out from IBM, Texas Instruments, and Zions Bancorp.

This Week:

MONDAY: NAHB Housing Index; earnings from Delta, Halliburton, Hasbro, IBM and Texas Instruments
TUESDAY: Housing starts; earnings from Goldman Sachs, Pepsi, State Street, Apple and yahoo
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; Bernanke testifies before Congress; weekly crude inventories; earnings from Coca-Cola, Morgan Stanley, UTX, Wells Fargo, USBancorp, eBay and Qualcomm
THURSDAY: ECB meeting; weekly jobless claims; Fed's Dudley speaks; existing-home sales; leading indicators; earnings from AT&T, Caterpillar, 3M, Travelers, UPS, BB&T, Fifth Third, KeyCorp, Nokia, PNC Bank, SunTrust, Amazon, American Express, Microsoft and Capital One
FRIDAY: EU bank stress-test results; earnings from Ford, McDonald's

More From