Stocks Finish Flat, Dow Snaps 4-Day Rally

Stocks ended flat in quiet trading Monday as investors continued to monitor developments in the Greek debt negotiations and ahead of the Fed's two-day FOMC meeting this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 11.66 points, or 0.09 percent, to close at 12,708.82, led by Travelers and P&G , failing to extend its four-day rally.

BofA and H-P led the blue-chip gainers.

The S&P 500 added 0.62 points, or 0.05 percent, to finish at 13,16.00. The Nasdaq declined 2.53 points, or 0.09 percent, to end at 2,784.17.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed above 18.

Among key S&P sectors, energy gained, while telecoms lagged.

“Today’s move is markets getting ready for the rest of the trading week—The Fed is having its two-day meeting and will release more details on how bank presidents voted for the first time…The market’s lost stream because the recent numbers are implying that the Fed won’t introduce QE anytime soon,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Perofrmance Trust Capital Partners.

In addition, Battle noted that the situation in Greece is pointing to a default for the debt-ridden nation in the near-term.

“It’s just a matter of how they will default—will it be orderly or will it be an uncontrolled event? No matter what happens, there’s going to be a shock to the system when it happens,” explained Battle.

Finance ministers and officials in Europe were still discussing terms of a Greek debt restructuringas part of a second bailout package for Athens, as well as other issues in the euro zone debt crisis, in an aim to avoid a chaotic default that could put the whole currency bloc in danger.

Also on the agenda for the meeting will be the European permanent bailout fund and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Meanwhile, France and Germany are expected to call for a relaxation of global bank capital rules to prevent lending to the real economy being choked off, the Financial Times reported.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion slumped after co-founders and CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridisstepped down from their roles over the weekendand were replaced by COO Thorsten Heins.

Gas producer Apache is to buy privately owned oil and gas company Cordillera Energy Partners in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $2.85 billion to expand its acreage of oil and petroleum liquid fields.

Meanwhile, oil prices edged higher after the EU announced it would back a U.S. call for sanctions on oil imports from Iran. However, the sanctions will not come into effect until July1 in order to give EU member states time to fulfill existing contracts with Tehran.

News Corp is considering bidding for Turkish group Calik Holding's media assets ATV and Sabah, according to reports.

Halliburton tumbled after the company warned that its first-quarter earnings could be affected due to the steep decline in natural gas prices that would cause short-term disruptions. This came even after the oilfield service company posted a better-than-expected profit and turned in a modestly upbeat outlook for the year.

CSX and Texas Instruments are slated to post earnings after-the-bell tonight.

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Coming Up This Week:

MONDAY: Earnings from CSX, Texas Instruments
TUESDAY: 2-yr note auction, FOMC meeting begins, Obama's State of the Union address; Earnings from DuPont, J&J, McDonald's Travelers, Verizon, Apple, Yahoo
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, FHFA house price index, pending home sales, oil inventories, FOMC meeting announcement, Bernanke press conference; Earnings from Boeing, ConocoPhillips, United Tech, Delta, Motorola Solutions, Amgen, Netflix, SanDisk, Symantec
THURSDAY: Durable goods orders, jobless claims, new home sales, leading indicators, 7-yr note auction; Earnings from AT&T, Caterpillar, 3M, Nokia, AutoNation, Bristol-Myers, Time Warner Cable, Motorola Mobility, Starbucks
FRIDAY: GDP, consumer sentiment; Earnings from Chevron, P&G, DRHorton

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