Mid-Day Update: Stocks Bounce Off Recent Low to Maintain Small Gains; Tech, Health Care Stocks Pacing Advance

U.S. stocks were narrowly higher in thin, pre-holiday trading monday, giving back most of their earlier gains spurred by new expectations Chinese officials were planning additional stimulus for the country's sagging economy. Winners were outpacing losers among the 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500, led by moderate advances among shares of technology and health care companies, overcoming another drop for energy stocks today.

The U.S. markets also have been pressured by a surprise fall in Chicago Fed's National Activity Index, dropping to a negative 0.30 reading in November, trailing expectations for a positive 0.15 score.

In Europe, stocks finished lower after crude oil prices falling to their lowest level since 2004. Spain's market fell following inconclusive results in general election voting this weekend, with with the conservative Parti Popular government of Mariano Rajoy losing its majority but remaining the largest party. Investors worry the lack of a clear winner could stymie or delay economic reforms.

Asian stocks got a boost from China on expectations Beijing would introduce measures to help boost the country's flagging property sector. However, Japan slipped amid lingering disappointment from the Bank of Japan's latest changes to its easing program announced on Friday.

Crude oil for February delivery was down 37 cents lower at $34.36 per barrel. February natural gas was 13 cents higher at $2.00 per 1 million BTU. February gold was $14.60 higher to $1,079.60 per ounce. March silver was 21 cents at $14.31 per ounce. March was up 3 cents to $2.13 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the US Oil Fund was down 0.47% at $10.61 and the US Natural Gas Fund was up 6.18% to $7.39. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 2.48% at $13.85 and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF was 1.31% higher at $103.38. The iShares Silver Trust was up 1.53% to $13.63.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 6.97 (+0.07%) to 9,974.62

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 28.33 (+0.17%) to 17,156.88

S&P 500 up 4.80 (+0.24%) to 2,010.35

Nasdaq Composite Index up 21.98 (+0.45%) to 4,945.06


Nikkei 225 Index down 0.37%

Hang Seng Index up 0.17%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.77%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.29%

CAC 40 down 1.30%

DAX down 1.04%


NYSE Energy Sector Index down 0.76%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.12%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.28%


(+) MSFT (+1.1%) Stock could gain 30% over next 18 months: Barron's

(+) SYT (+3.2%) ChemChina sweetens offer for company

(+) AVEO (+16.5%) Strikes licensing deal with EUSA Pharma for renal cancer


(+) AUO (+8.1%) Gains on reported tie-in with AAPL

(+) PBY (+XX%) Says Icahn's $16.50 per share buyout offer superior to Bridgestone's.

(+) DIS (+XX%) Boosted by record-breaking Star Wars film over the weekend.

(+) FIT (+XX%) Pacific Crest Securities says holiday sales "exploding"


(-) EMR (-1.3%) Trailing 3-month orders drop 13% on low oil prices, reduced

industrial capital spending

(-) CAT (-xx%) loses jury verdict to supplier

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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