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Tech stocks gain in mixed finish for major US indexes


Energy companies rose as the price of crude oil rebounded from an early slide (AP)

Energy companies rose as the price of crude oil rebounded from an early slide (AP)

Energy companies rose as the price of crude oil rebounded from an early slide (AP)

Wall Street capped a mostly listless day of trading on Monday with an uneven finish for US stock indexes.

Gains by technology and materials stocks were mostly outweighed by losses among real estate companies, banks and other sectors. Macy's and other big retailers also took hefty losses.

Energy companies rose as the price of crude oil rebounded from an early slide.

Investors were making moves ahead of the next corporate earnings reporting season, which ramps up this week.

Technology stocks were a favourite, with traders expecting companies to post solid results, said Anastasia Amoroso, global investment specialist at JP Morgan Private Bank.

"There's definitely a pivot going on to earnings from some of the trading last week," Ms Amoroso said, adding: "Investors are looking for some of the higher growth opportunities and tech definitely stands out."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.25 points, or 0.1%, to 2,427.43, the Dow Jones industrial average slid 5.82 points, or 0.03%, to 21,408.52, the Nasdaq composite rose 23.31 points, or 0.4%, to 6,176.39, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks lost 7.36 points, or 0.5%, to 1,408.47.

About as many stocks rose as fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

Bond prices rose - the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.37% from 2.39% late on Friday.

Trading also got off to a mixed start on Monday coming off a broad pick-up in major markets in Europe and Asia.

Investors appeared to mostly focus on the coming start of the second-quarter earnings season. The market expects earnings per share growth of about 7% from companies in the S&P 500.

Traders also were looking ahead to potential news from the Federal Reserve later this week. Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen is due to address Congress on Wednesday and Thursday.

"We're going through a transition phase where interest rates and Fed policy were very friendly for quite some time and that was the most important support for the markets," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird.

"Now we're moving more toward the revival of the global economy, including the US, and what that might mean for earnings prospects going forward, and the markets are now dwelling on that potential."

The S&P 500's technology sector, which went through a sell-off a few weeks ago, notched the biggest gain on Monday. Chipmaker Nvidia led the group, climbing 6.94 dollars, or 4.7%, to 153.70 dollars.

Materials companies also posted big gains. CF Industries led the pack, adding 1.83 dollars, or 6.6%, to 29.72 dollars.

Big department stores slumped, led by Macy's. The company was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding 1.60 dollars, or 7.1%, to 21.08 dollars. Gap fell 1.43 dollars, or 6.3%, to 21.21 dollars. Best Buy lost 3.64 dollars, or 6.3%, to 54.23 dollars.

Teen fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch sank 21.1% after the struggling chain said over the weekend that it was no longer up for sale. The company, which said in May it was talking with several possible buyers, said sales remain strong at its surf-inspired Hollister brand. The stock shed 2.57 dollars to 9.59.

Investors welcomed news of deals that were moving forward.

ClubCorp vaulted 30.2% after private equity firm Apollo Global Management agreed to buy the golf and country club company for 17.12 dollars a share, or 1.1 billion dollars. ClubCorp gained 3.95 dollars to 17.05. Apollo rose 57 cents, or 2.2%, to 26.91 dollars.

Hawaiian Telcom surged 18.1% on news the phone company will combine with Cincinnati Bell in a deal Hawaiian Telcom said is worth 650 million dollars, or 30.75 dollars per share of its stock.

As part of the deal, Cincinnati Bell is buying another company, OnX Enterprise Solutions, for 201 million dollars. Shares in Hawaiian Telcom added 4.43 dollars to 28.87. Cincinnati Bell slid 1.35 dollars, or 7%, to 18 dollars.

Pepsi and Delta Air Lines are among the big companies due to report their latest quarterly results this week. JPMorgan Chase, PNC Financial Services Group, Wells Fargo and Citigroup report earnings on Friday.

Energy futures notched gains. Benchmark US crude added 17 cents to settle at 44.40 dollars a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, also rose 17 cents to close at 46.88 dollars a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale petrol was little changed at 1.50 dollars a gallon. Heating oil also held steady at 1.45 dollars a gallon, and natural gas rose 7 cents, or 2.3%, to 2.93 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold inched up 3.50 dollars to 1,213.20 dollars an ounce, silver added 20 cents to 15.63 dollars an ounce, and copper was little changed at 2.65 dollars a pound.

Major markets in Europe closed higher.

Germany's Dax rose 0.5%, while the Cac 40 in France gained 0.4%. The FTSE 100 Index of leading British shares picked up 0.3%.

Earlier in Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei index gained 0.8%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.7%. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4%, India's Sensex rose 0.9%, and Kospi added 0.1%.

In currency trading, the dollar rose to 114.05 yen from 113.99 yen late on Friday. The euro slipped to 1.1403 dollars from 1.1404.