Stocks are showing a lack of direction in early trading on Monday, with traders seemingly reluctant to make any significant moves. The major averages are lingering near the unchanged line after turning in a mixed performance last week.
The major averages are currently mixed, with the Dow posting a modest gain. While the Dow is up 8.43 points or 0.1 percent at 13,163.56, the Nasdaq is down 1.42 points or 0.1 percent at 1,976.62 and the S&P 500 is down 1.61 points or 0.1 percent at 1,416.46.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders digest developments from overseas while also keeping a close eye on the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington.
Uncertainty about the political situation in Italy is weighing on investor sentiment following news that Prime Minister Mario Monti intends to resign.
Monti's decision to step down came after he lost the support of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom party. Monti said he would try to pass a budget for 2013 before resigning.
Peter Boockvar, managing director at Miller Tabak, said, "If there is one certainty in Italian politics, it's uncertainty. As the U.S. has had just 12 President's since WWII, Italy has had 26 different PM's."
"The difference now though of course is the fragile state of the country's finances where consistent policy is most desired," he added.
However, the negative sentiment generated by the news out of Italy has largely been offset by upbeat Chinese economic data, including reports showing strong industrial output and retail sales growth.
Chinese industrial output rose 10.1 percent year-over-year in November following a 9.6 percent increase in October, while annual Chinese retail sales growth accelerated to 14.9 percent from 14.5 percent.
While most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves, early strength is visible among gold stocks. The gains by gold stocks come amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.
Electronic storage and biotechnology stocks are seeing more moderate strength, while weakness is visible among brokerage and airline stocks.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Monday. While Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.1 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose by 0.4 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.1 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are seeing modest weakness on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are all down by just 0.1 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest strength, partly offsetting the weakness seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.6 basis points at 1.611 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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