Wall Street Wavers Ahead of Factory, Housing Data


NEW YORK -- The U.S. stock market ended Monday's choppy trading session mostly higher as investors weighed soft housing data against a flurry of deal news, including the takeover of Family Dollar Stores Inc. by Dollar Tree Inc.

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Sales of existing homes in June fell, marking the first decline in four months. Later this week, the pace of data speeds up as investors will get second-quarter gross domestic product, a Fed decision and July payrolls among other economic items of importance. Get ready for 48 hours of economic fury

The S&P 500 (SPX) ended the day less than a point higher at 1,978.91. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) added 22 points, or 0.1%, to 16,982.59. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) closed 4.65 points, or 0.1%, lower at 4,444.91.

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"We are not shocked with the home sales numbers because demographic trends are underpinning those numbers. A much higher proportion of young people is living with their parents, as they are weighed down by student debt and stagnant wages," said Patty Edwards, managing director and portfolio manager at US Bank Wealth Management.

"Still, the economy is slowly improving and we expect companies to continue to grow their earnings. This market is more and more earnings driven and we are watching softer revenue growth, though no alarm bells are going off yet," she added.

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"Merger Monday" began with a deal in the retail industry, though excitement about M&A activity failed to lift the markets.

Family Dollar Stores(FDO), soared 25% after Dollar Tree (DLTR) said it would buy the rival discount retailer for $74.50 a share, a roughly 23% premium over Family Dollar's closing price on Friday. Dollar Tree shares were up 1.2%.

Shares in Zillow (ZILLOW.XX), which fell in early trade, rebounded and rose 0.9% after the real-estate website said it is buying rival Trulia Inc.(TRLA) for $3.5 billion in stock. Trulia jumped 15%.

El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. (LOCO) surged 43%. The Mexican fast-food chain soared 60% in its Nasdaq debut on Friday.

Among Monday's earnings reports, Tyson Foods (TSN) posted earnings that missed Wall Street views, although revenue topped forecasts. Tyson shares rose 2.6%.

Home builder stocks were hit hard after weak existing-home sales. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) fell 1.6%.

Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) will report after the close on Monday. Follow more of the day's notable movers in the regular Movers & Shakers column.

Across other markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed at highs not seen in more than three years on Monday, after reports that a plan to allow direct stock trading between Hong Kong and Shanghai could be launched mid-October. European stocks closed lower.

Oil prices (CLU4) pushed lower, while gold (GCU4) was a touch higher, and the U.S. dollar index(DXY), which measures the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was largely steady.