US stocks finish little changed on mixed data

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks Monday finished little changed following mixed economic data as investors kept watch on continued unrest in major oil-producer Iraq.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 9.82 points (0.06 per cent) to 16,937.26.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.26 (0.01 per cent) to 1,962.61, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on a scant 0.64 (0.01 per cent) to 4,368.68.

HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers index (PMI) for China, which tracks activity in factories and workshops in the world's second-biggest economy, came in at 50.8 in June, the highest level since November.

But Markit Economics said its eurozone composite PMI for June slipped to 52.8 points from 53.5 in May, the weakest level since December.

In the US, the National Association of Realtors said existing-home sales rose 4.9 per cent in May from April to an annual rate of 4.89 million units.

Oil prices dipped as investors noted that turmoil in Iraq has yet to directly disrupt production. But investors kept watch on Iraq on a day when US Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise visit to the country.

Mace Blicksilver, director at Marblehead Asset Management, said volume was light but could pick up later in the week with corporate earnings releases. Some investors also may ramp up trading to rebalance portfolios before the second quarter ends, he said.

Dow component General Electric fell 1.1 per cent after sealing a US$16.8 billion (S$20.9 billion) deal to buy the energy business of French company Alstom. Some analysts expressed worry at the concessions the US company made to win French government approval.

Business software giant Oracle said it was buying rival Micros Systems for US$5.3 billion to expand its big data efforts in the hotel and restaurant sectors.

Micros has some 567,000 customers, including hotels, casinos, restaurants,retail, leisure and entertainment providers in more than 180 countries.Oracle rose 0.7 per cent while Micros gained 3.4 per cent.

Utility Wisconsin Energy announced it was buying Integrys Energy Group for US$9.1 billion to create a power giant in the mid-west of the US. Wisconsin Energy fell 3.5 per cent while Integrys shot up 12.1 per cent.

Bond prices were unchanged. Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury held steady at 2.62 per cent, the same level as Friday, while the 30-year remained at 3.45 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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