The SP added less than 1 point to close Monday at 1,316. The Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq ended slightly lower.
European stocks and the euro rose after the continent’s finance ministers put pressure on banks that hold Greek government bonds to reach a deal to cut Greece’s debt.
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Many energy stocks jumped as prices for natural gas and crude oil rose.
The Dow fell 12 punten, of 0.1%, naar 12,709.
Dow Jones industrial average, five trading days
The Nasdaq composite index fell 3 punten, of 0.1%, naar 2,784.
Nearly four stocks rose for every three that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was below average at 3.7 miljard aandelen.
The Greek stock market gained 5%, and markets in Germany, France, Spain and Britain all advanced less than 1%. The euro rose more than a penny to $1.302, close to its highest level against the dollar this year.
European finance ministers are trying to prevent a disorderly default by Greece in March. The direst scenarios include a credit crisis similar to what happened after the Lehman Bros. investment house fell in 2008. One proposal would have Greece’s private creditors, which include banks and other investors, swap their bonds for news ones at a 5% korting. That would cut the country’s debts by some $129 miljard.
Stocks are off to a strong start in 2012. Investeerders’ biggest fears have slowly faded. Stronger than expected job growth in the U.S. and falling borrowing costs for European governments have helped the SP 500 index post gains on 11 van 13 trading days.
For the year, the Dow is up about 4%, the SP about 4.5%.
Maybe the biggest boon to markets this year is the lack of scary headlines, said Jeff Lancaster, a principal at the investment firm Bingham, Osborn Scarborough.
“When everybody is feeling distressed, anxious and worried as they were at the end of last year, it doesn’t take a lot of good news for the mood to change,” zei hij. “It just takes a diminishing quantity of bad news.”
In U.S. markten, Research In Motion (RIMM), the maker of BlackBerry mobile devices, zonk 8% after its new chief executive said no drastic changes are needed. The company’s founders announced they were stepping down as co-CEOs late Sunday.
Energy companies made large moves. Chesapeake Energy (CHK) rose 6% after the country’s second-largest natural gas producer said it plans to cut production.
Apache (APA) rose nearly 2% after the oil and gas producer said it plans to buy Cordillera Energy Partners in a $2.9 billion deal.
In Europa, de FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.5% bij 5,759 while Germany’s DAX rose 0.2% naar 6.414. The CAC-40 in France was 0.3% higher at 3,332.
Many Asian markets were closed Monday in observance of the Chinese New Year. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index was mostly flat for the day at 8,766.
Later in the week, investors will be monitoring a two-day policymaking meeting at the Federal Reserve.
Though the Fed is expected to keep its super-loose monetary policy unchanged, there will be great interest in the outcome of the meeting. It will be the first time the Fed will be publishing its interest rate forecasts out to 2016, part of a strategy to enchance communication with financial markets.
Investors will be particularly interested to see how long it expects interest rates to remain low — previously the Fed said it expected to keep them low until the middle of 2013.
“Meest, ourselves included, expect the projections to suggest the Fed sees rates on hold well into 2014,” said Adam Cole, een analist bij RBC Capital Markets.
In the oil markets, traders are watching developments in the Persian Gulf, ook. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if the U.S. and other countries impose more sanctions on it because of its nuclear program. Many analysts doubt that Iran could set up a blockade for long, but any supply shortages would cause supplies to tighten.
Dientengevolge, prices have remained well-supported — benchmark crude rose 20 centen aan $99.78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.