U.S. stocks closed mostly flat Monday, despite upbeat economic and corporate news, as investors seemed reluctant to push prices higher following four weeks of gains.
In U.S. economic news, the Census Bureau said orders for long-lasting goods rose 4.6 percent in December, compared with the 1.6 percent rise economists had forecast. The National Association of Realtors said its index of pending home sales fell 4.3 percent in December. The Federal Trade Commission took action against Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, a seller of health and beauty products, for operating an alleged pyramid scheme.
In corporate news, Yahoo said after the close that it earned $283 million, or 32 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, topping analyst expectations. Shares were up nearly 5 percent in after-hours trading. Shares of Hess rose 6 percent after the oil and gas company said it would sell more assets as it exits the refining business. The company also disclosed that investor Elliot Associates is interested in buying up to $800 million worth of Hess stock. Apple gained more than 2 percent and moved back ahead of Exxon Mobil in the market valuation race.
The dollar fell versus the euro and the yen, but rose against the pound. Light sweet crude oil for March delivery gained 56 cents to $ 96.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures were unchanged at $ 1,656.60.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 14.05, or 0.10 percent, to 13,881.93. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 2.78, or 0.18 percent, to 1,500.18. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 4.59, or 0.15 percent, to 3,154.30