Stocks Close Flat as Energy Undercuts Home Sales Data
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks settled mixed amid stronger-than-expected housing data and a pullback in the energy sector.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 1.4 points, or 0.01%, at 12,982. The S&P 500 rose 1.9 points, or 0.1%, at 1368. The Nasdaq gained 2.4 points, or 0.08%, at 2966. The energy sector was down 0.4% as oil retreated from the $110 mark.
Equities bounced off morning lows after pending home sales data from the National Association of Realtors approached a two-year high in January, with a climb of 2% last month. Sales were expected to have risen 1% in January, according to Thomson Reuters, following a 3.5% drop in December. The report said that the group is expecting price stabilization and possible price growth this year.
"Overall, the direction of the various revisions, along with the January estimate, point to a choppy, though steadily improving trend," said economists at Barclays Capital Research. "As pending home sales progress, existing home sales tend to follow with a month or two lag, which suggests the modest improvement in the housing market is likely to continue."
Business conditions in the Texas area improved at a faster pace, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve. The bank's business activity index rose to 17.8 in February after 15.3 in January and a contraction in December.
Earlier, stocks were falling after Group of 20 countries rebuffed calls to boost the eurozone's resources over the weekend. The G20 said Europe must ramp up money to fight the debt crisis before leading economies will provide more funds to the International Monetary Fund. The G20 is moving to create $2 trillion in resources -- with $1 trillion from Europe's temporary and permanent bailout funds and as much as $500 billion for the IMF from countries like Japan and China, adding to the current $385 billion in funds.
The effort to increase the region's firepower would be the G20's greatest since the countries put $1 trillion into Europe three years ago to fight the recession. This comes as Greece is on track to receive its second bailout from European creditors and amid ongoing concern for core economies like Italy and Spain. This afternoon, Germany passed a parliamentary vote on Greece's aid package.
Germany's DAX settled down 0.6% while London's FTSE fell 0.3% on Monday. Japan's Nikkei Average settled down 0.14% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed off 0.9%.
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In corporate news, Lowe's(LOW) , the home-improvement retailer, reported fourth-quarter profit of 29 cents a share on revenue of $11.63 billion compared with the average analyst expectation of earnings of 24 cents a share on revenue of $11.3 billion. Shares were up 0.7% to $27.34.