FOX Business: The Power to Prosper
The markets shed early gains and dipped slightly into negative territory as traders eyed crude sliding 2.5% and the beginning of earning season.
As of 3:25 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 12.6 points, or 0.1%, to 12,368, the S&P 500 was off 5.6 points, or 0.42%, to 1,323 and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 15.3 points, or 0.32%, to 2,765. The FOX 50 was lower by 3 points to 931.
The markets were largely in holding pattern last week, with the blue chips edging 0.3% higher and the Nasdaq and S&P 500 slipping 0.3% on the lightest weekly volume in 2011.
Traders were keeping a close eye on oil prices that settled at a 31-month high Friday amid turmoil across the world. While the situation in Middle Eastern and North African countries like Libya and Yemen remains tense, there has been some levels of easing, somewhat allaying concerns that there could be a major supply disruption, according to analysts.
"We are taking off some of the geopolitical risk," said Olivier Jakob, managing director at Petromatrix, a Swiss-based energy analytics company.
Light, sweet crude dropped $2.87, or 2.5%, to $109.92.
Oil also tends to trade inversely to the U.S. dollar, which gained 0.18% against a group of world currencies. The euro edged 0.02% lower against the greenback.
The price consumers pay for gas at the pump has risen significantly in recent weeks. A gallon of regular gas cost $3.77 a gallon on average, up from $3.55 last month and $2.86 last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
On the corporate front, NYSE Euronext (NYX) rebuffed the rival takeover attempt made by Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ) and IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) on Sunday. While the $11.3 billion Nasdaq deal offered a roughly $1.6 billion premium to the Deutsche Boerse offer NYSE agreed to in February, the parent of the New York Stock Exchange says it believes the Deutsche Boerse deal offers more long-term value for shareholders.
Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer, Robert Greifeld, responded hours after the NYSE announcement, saying "NYSE Euronext's Board of Directors is depriving its stockholders of the benefits of a superior proposal." Griefeld plans on discussing the deal with regulators this week to try to shore up the deal, and then will begin officially soliciting NYSE shareholders, sources at Nasdaq told FOX Business.
Earnings season kicks off Monday, with aluminum maker Alcoa (AA) expected to report its quarterly earnings after the bell.
Merger and acquisitions activity has been heating up in recent months. Level 3 Communications (LVLT), a provider of communications services, revealed plans to acquire Global Crossing in a deal that is valued at roughly $3 billion.
In metals, gold edged lower by $6.00, or 0.41%, to $1,468 a troy ounce after settling at a record-high Friday.
Toyota (TM) will idle its North American plants for five days in April as it grapples with supply shortages.
Biogen (BIIB) was one of the top-performing S&P 500 components after its experimental multiple sclerosis treatment met its primary and secondary goals in a late-stage study.
Vivus (VVUS), a biopharmaceutical company, released the results of a study that shows its QNEXA drug significantly reduces weight in obese individuals and can improve so-called co-morbidities, which are diseases that tend to be associated with obesity, such as diabetes. Vivus shares jumped 6% on the news.
World markets were mixed on Monday.
The English FTSE 100 was down 0.04% to 6,053, the French CAC 40 lost 0.57% to 4,039 and the German DAX was off 0.17% to 7,204.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 pulled back 0.5% to 9,720 and the Chinese Hang Seng was down 0.38% to 24,303.