U.S. Stocks Fluctuate Before Closing Slightly Lower

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With many traders sticking to the sidelines following the long, holiday weekend, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Monday. The major averages bounced back and forth across the unchanged line following the sharp pullback seen last Thursday.

The major averages eventually ended the session modestly lower. The Dow slipped 39.54 points or 0.1 percent to 34,411.69, the Nasdaq dipped 18.72 points or 0.1 percent to 13,332.36 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.90 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 4,391.69.

The choppy trading on Wall Street came as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of a slew of earnings news this week.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), IBM Corp. (IBM), Netflix (NFLX), Procter & Gamble (PG), Tesla (TSLA), American Express (AXP) and Verizon (VZ) are among the big-name companies due to report their quarterly results in the coming days.

Financial giant Bank of America (BAC) released its first quarter results before the start of today's trading, reporting earnings and revenue that exceeded analyst estimates.

Traders may also have been looking ahead to the release of the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which may shed additional light on the outlook for interest rates.

On the U.S. economic front, the National Association of Home Builders released a report showing a continued deterioration in U.S. homebuilder confidence in the month of April.

The report showed the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index fell to 77 in April from 79 in March, with the decrease matching economist estimates.

The housing market index declined for the fourth consecutive month, sliding to its lowest level since hitting 76 last September.

Sector News

Despite the lackluster performance by the broader markets, biotechnology stocks moved sharply lower on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index down by 3.6 percent.

Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) posted a steep loss after the biopharmaceutical company halted the global clinical development program for its cancer drug bempegaldesleukin in combination with Bristol Myers Squibb's (BMY) Opdivo.

Significant weakness also emerged among airline stocks, as reflected by the 1.5 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Airline Index.

Pharmaceutical, healthcare and brokerage stocks also showed notable moves to the downside on the day, while energy stocks moved higher along with the price of crude oil.

With crude for May delivery jumping $1.26 to $108.21 a barrel amid outages in Libya, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index and the NYSE Arca Oil Index climbed 1.9 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

Semiconductor stocks also turned in a strong performance following recent weakness, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index advancing by 1.9 percent after ending the previous session at an eleven-month closing low.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1.1 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index fell by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets remained closed for Easter Monday.

In the bond market, treasuries moved to the downside over the course of the session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose 3.4 basis points to 2.862 percent.

Looking Ahead

Earnings news may attract attention on Tuesday, with Johnson & Johnson, Halliburton (HAL), Hasbro (HAS), and Travelers (TRV) among the companies due to report their quarterly results before the start of trading.

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