Richard Drew, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Mining companies and corporate deal stories were in focus Monday on an otherwise quiet day on the stock market.
Newmont Mining and Cliffs Natural Resources were among the biggest gainers in the Standard & Poor's 500 index after the price of gold and silver advanced. Gold rose for a fourth day on reports of increased demand from China. Silver gained the most in three weeks.
BlackBerry jumped after the struggling smartphone maker said it would consider putting itself up for sale. Dole Foods rose after its CEO said he would take the company private and Steinway Musical Instruments rose after receiving a new buyout offer.
Stocks had opened lower at the start of the week after logging their biggest weekly loss in almost two months. By late morning the losses had been pared but stocks remained marginally lower.
The S&P 500 index fell two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,689. The Dow Jones industrial average was down seven points, or 0.1 percent, at 15,418.
Technology stocks were the leading gainers in the S&P 500 and got a lift from Apple. The tech giant's stock rose $13.63, or 3 percent, to $468.10 after the blog All Things D said the company would release the latest version of its iPhone on Sept. 10.
The Nasdaq also benefited for Apple's advance, rising nine points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,669. The company makes up 7.9 percent of the index.
The stock market has been treading water this month as companies finished reporting earnings for the second quarter and investors considered when the Federal Reserve will start to ease back on its economic stimulus. The U.S. central bank is buying $85 billion a month to keep long-term interest rates low, and many analysts are expecting that it will start reducing those purchases as soon as next month.
The tepid August follows big gains for stocks for July, when the S&P 500 rose 5 percent. That was the best performance for the index since January. Stocks climbed that month after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured investors that the Fed would only ease back on its stimulus if the economy was strong enough to handle it.
Any pullback in stocks, is presenting investors with a buying opportunity, said Doug Cote, chief market strategist with ING U.S. Investment Management.
"There will be some near-term volatility, but it's a buying opportunity and a chance to get fully invested in the market," said Cote.
The S&P 500 is up 0.1 percent this month. For the year, the index is up 18.4 percent.
Investors will get further clues about the strength of the economy this week when the U.S. Commerce Department publishes its July retail sales figures Tuesday. There will also be data on the housing market, industrial production and the Philadelphia Fed's survey of manufacturing on Thursday.
The market's reaction to the reports may be muted as many market participants are likely to be on vacation this week, said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds.
"When everybody is at the beach, it takes a louder bang to get the BlackBerries to start humming," Kelly said.
Sluggish economic growth figures from Japan, the world's third-largest economy, disappointed investors and that weighed on the stock market in early trading.
The 2.6 percent annualized second-quarter growth rate recorded in Japan was below the 3.8 percent rate recorded in the first quarter and the 3.6 percent predicted by analysts. Japan's main stock index, the Nikkei, fell 0.7 percent on the news.
In commodities trading, the price of gold rose $22.20, or 1.7 percent, to $1,334.20 an ounce. Silver gained 93.3 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $21.34 an ounce.
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