Stocks strengthened on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining for the seventh straight day to the highest level since late December, with Nike ( NKE ) leading blue-chip gains while Apple ( AAPL ) ended flat after introducing new products. The S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite measure have advanced for four consecutive days.
Equities rose even as three non-voting members of the Federal Open Markets Committee this year implied U.S. rates will continue to rise in 2016 as inflationary pressures expand and the economy continues to weather global shocks.
Still, data on Monday may have suggested otherwise, with the Chicago Fed's national activity index and existing home sales both showing considerable deterioration in February. The Chicago Fed index fell to negative 0.29 reading from January's upwardly revised positive 0.41 score, missing estimates for a positive 0.25 reading.
Existing home sales fell to a seasonally-adjusted annualized rate of 5.08 million, down 7.1% from January's 5.47 million yearly pace and missing estimates for a smaller decline to an annualized 5.305 million sales.
Oil prices rose, with benchmark U.S. futures up 1.2% to $39.91 a barrel. That didn't do much for energy stocks, with the sector falling 0.5%. Healthcare stocks on the S&P 500 added 0.5% while the telecommunications measure advanced 0.6%.
Here's where the U.S. markets stood at the close:
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 21.57 (+0.12%) to 17,623.87
S&P 500 up 2.02 (+0.10%) to 2,051.60
Nasdaq Composite Index up +13.23 (+0.28%) to 4,808.87
Nikkei 225 Index down 1.25%
Hang Seng Index up 0.06%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 2.15%
FTSE 100 Index down 0.08%
CAC 40 down 0.78%
(+) VAL (+23.13%) Sherwin Williams ( SHW ) agreed to acquire Valspar for $113 per share
(+) VRX (+7.41%) Looking for new CEO, names William Ackman to board, discloses past results "misstatements"
(+) NKE (+2.75%) Added to JPMorgan focus list, price target boosted to $72 from $67.50 a share
(+) RMTI (+3.79%) China's regulators have approved Triferic drug submission for commercialization in China
(+) MRKT (+13.63%) To merge with IHS
(-) CBMX (-17.6%) Prices 8,000 units of Series F convertible preferred stock, warrants at $1,000/ unit, or $8 million
(-) AFFX (-9.94%) Rejected recent acquisition offer by former Affymetrix executives of $16.10 per share
(-) X (-3.87%) Downgraded at Jefferies to underperform from hold
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