Photo Finish: Stocks Close Modestly Higher, Ending Two-Day Rout

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

After spending much of the trading session solidly higher, a late-day selloff in the financial sector left the broad S&P 500 with only slight gains.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 37 points, or 0.34%, to 10,854, the S&P 500 gained 0.29 point, or 0.03%, to 1,124 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 3.5 points, or 0.15%, to 2,345. The FOX 50 rose 0.65 point to 815.

As has been the trend in many recent trading sessions, financial shares were a substantial drag on equity markets.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) were by far the worst-performing components on the Dow in mid-day trading. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) also took a late-day dive on a report the investment-banking behemoth hired Reid Weingarten, a high-profile defense lawyer.

The Dow Jones Banks Titans 30 Index, which tracks a broad swath of global banks, tumbled 1.7% on the day.  The cost to insure bank debt against default has risen markedly across the board -- a sign of increased uncertainty in the sector.

Utilities like Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) and energy companies like Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) lagged behind considerably as well.

However, the intense selling in recent weeks has created buying opportunities to market participants willing to wade in to the choppy waters. Technology stocks posted relatively strong advances.

In particular, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), which spiraled 20% on Friday on news it was mulling a departure from the personal computer business, tacked on more than 3%, leading the 30 blue chips. Consumer-driven stocks like Tiffany (NYSE:TIF) and Saks (NYSE:SKS) performed strongly as well.

"The recent market downdraft will eventually be viewed as a buying opportunity for those who are willing to look beyond the most recent data point," analysts at Barclays Capital wrote in a research note, referring to a bout of negative economic data released recently.

The blue chips shed 4% in highly-volatile trading last week, and have now plummeted 10.6% this month alone.  The markets have been driven by concerns over the state of the global economy, and an uncertain picture in Europe.  In fact, last week there were fears over the capital position of large European banks that sliced the prices of banking stocks across the board.

And the worry in equity markets remains palpable, as is evidenced by the race to safety investors has made in recent weeks. Gold -- seen as a safe-haven asset -- settled at a record high and has soared 16% this month alone.  The precious metal gained another $39.70, or 2.1%, to $1,892 a troy ounce.

Energy markets were mixed amid news the situation in Libya may be stabilizing, which may enable the country to resume oil production.

Libyan rebels controlled 95% of Tripoli, the country's capital, according to a report by FOX News, taking control from Muammar al-Qaddafi's forces.  The north-African country is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, but only ranks as the seventeenth-largest world oil producer, according to the Energy Department, and mostly exports to Europe.

Light, sweet crude, which is the type that is prevalent in America, gained $1.86, or 2.3%, to $84.12 a barrel.  However, brent crude, more popular in Europe, fell 35 cents, or 0.32%, to $108.27 a barrel.

Wholesale RBOB gasoline fell 1 cent, or 0.21%, to $2.84 a gallon.

In currencies, the euro fell 0.02% against the U.S. dollar, while the greenback gained 0.09% against a basket of world currencies.

There are no major economic data releases slated for Monday, but traders are already looking to the highly-awaited Jackson Hole economic symposium.  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to make a speech there on Friday, after revealing the central bank's enormous quantitative easing program, QE2, at the same event last year.

The major question in the markets is whether the Fed will take additional actions to stimulate the economy amid the global economic weakness.

Corporate News

Sprint (NYSE:S) is in talks with cable companies about a potential investment, or buyout, of Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), according to a report, sending shares of the struggling mobile-broadband provider deep into the green.

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDA.A) got a boost after revealing Arrow Energy its joint venture with PetroChina made a bid for Bow Energy.

Foreign Markets 

The English FTSE 100 jumped 1.1% to 5,095, the French CAC 40 gained 1.1% to 3,051 and the German DAX climbed 1.1% to 5,474.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slipped 1% to 8,628 and the Chinese Hang Seng slumped 0.48% to 4,082.