Stocks Remain Flat as Economic Data and Earnings Replace D.C. Gridlock

Michael Teague  |

Wall Street opened a new week of trading on Monday with stocks more or less flat, as fears resulting from the government shutdown and a potential failure to increase the nation’s borrowing limit last week receded, perhaps only briefly, into the distance.

With the federal government once again running at full capacity, investors can expect economic data and third-quarter earnings reports to resume their role as market catalysts. Two reports on job-market conditions in the US out of the Department of Labor are due on Tuesday and Wednesday, and any substantially positive outlook they might provide could threaten to bring to the fore the possibility that the Fed will move ahead with plans to wind-down its stimulus spending program.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced a slight 0.01 percent to consolidate Friday’s record-high close with a point total of 1,744.65, while for its part the Down Jones Industrial Average sank 0.05 percent to 15,392. The NASDAQ added 0.15 percent to 3,920.05, ever-closer to breaking the 4,000 mark it for the first time since the dotcom bubble in early 2000.

The S&P was supported by Apple (AAPL) 2.40 percent gain on the day, in the wake of rival Google’s (GOOG) breaching the $1,000 mark the previous week, and ahead of the company’s release of its own heavily anticipated Q3 results. Shares for First Solar (FSLR) rose an impressive 7.70 percent after a good word from analysts at JPMorgan (JPM) , who cited the company as their preferred clean-energy play.

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Leading oilfield services provider Halliburton (HAL) ended the day 3.40 percent lower, the result of the company falling short on revenue expectations for the third quarter, and voicing expectations of a slower fourth quarter resulting from conditions in South and Central America.

The Dow was topped by General Electric (GE) , after the company garnered increased attention from analysts at Citigroup (C) , advancing over 2 percent by the closing bell. Despite confirmation over the weekend of a $13 billion settlement leftover from the company’s actions leading up to and during the financial crisis of 2008, JPMorgan (JPM) was only slightly lower, by a factor of 0.06 percent.

The NASDAQ was lifted in part thanks to heavily-traded advances for tech companies that began when Google close this past Friday above $1,000. The milestone has been widely interpreted as a confirmation of the tech giant’s increasingly dominant position, and has resulted in a bullish outlook for ETFs tracking the industry. Healthcare information services provider WebMD Health Corp. (WBMD) meanwhile impressed investors with the announcement that it would be repurchasing the remainder of celebrity fund manager Carl Icahn’s stake in the company for some $177 million, up over 10 percent by the close.

Netflix Inc. (NFLX) was 6.45 percent higher by the close of the session in anticipation of a promising earnings report scheduled for release in later trading.

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