Photo Finish: Dow Closes Slightly Higher

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

The blue chips shed early gains and closed slightly in the green as traders eyed crude prices sliding 2.5% and the start of earnings season after the bell.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.1 points, or 0.01%,  to 12,381, the S&P 500 was off 3.7 points, or 0.28%, to 1,324 and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 8.9 points, or 0.32%, to 2,772. The FOX 50 was lower by 1.6 points to 932.

Energy stocks like Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) and Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) were sharply lower on the day. Healthcare issues such as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Johnson and Johnson eked out gains.

Alcoa (NYSE:AA) kicked off earnings season after the bell Monday, revealing earnings of 27 cents a share for the first quarter, which were inline with analysts' estimates. The aluminum maker's revenue came in at $6 billion, slightly below the $6.08 billion Wall Street was expecting.

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 slid Monday after settling 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 0.28% 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 (NYSE:NYX) rebuffed the rival takeover attempt made by Nasdaq OMX Group (NASDAQ:NDAQ) and IntercontinentalExchange (NASDAQ: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.

Merger and acquisitions activity has been heating up in recent months.  Level 3 Communications (NASDAQ: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.

Corporate News

Toyota (NYSE:TM) will idle its North American plants for five days in April as it grapples with supply shortages.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is temporarily restricting sales of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) popular iPad 2.

Biogen (NASADQ: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.

Endo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ENDP) revealed plans to acquire American Medical Systems (NASDAQ:AMMD) for $2.6 billion, sending American Medical shares soaring more than 30%.

Vivus (NASDAQ: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 2% on the news.

Foreign Markets 

World markets were mostly lower 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.