U.S. Stocks Ease Off Highs as Mixed Economic Data Weigh
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock markets were range-bound, trading near the flat line Monday on very slow volume as investors continued to process the heavy set of economic reports from the past week and awaited speeches from Federal Reserve officials on their outlook for the central bank's stimulus program.
"The markets are ... muddling along and digesting the data," Michael Serio, the Denver, Colo.- based regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank said in a phone interview. The private bank has $170 billion in assets under management. "It's going to take a couple of days to digest the data" and the main focus continues to be "employment, employment, employment."
Both the Dow and S&P hit record closing highs Friday despite a weaker-than-expected July employment report and speculation the Fed may not begin cutting back on its stimulus program following the bank's September meeting.
Serio said the Fed's tapering of its bond-buying stimulus measures is more likely to begin towards the end of the year rather than in September or October. "Until they hit that magical 7% unemployment rate, I don't think the Fed's in any rush to slow their bond-buying program," he said.
The Nasdaq ticked up 0.09% to 3,692.95.
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The world's second-largest bank also said that its net interest income declined to $17.819 billion during the first half from $19.376 billion during the first half of 2012, reflecting the difficult interest rate environment and asset sales.