Stocks Close Lower in Choppy Trading

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

The markets ended a volatile trading session slightly lower as traders weighed the market impact of the death of terror mastermind Usama bin Laden.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.2 points, or 0.02%, to 12,807, the S&P 500 lost 2.4 points, or 0.18%, to 1,361 and the Nasdaq Composite edged lower by 9.5 points, or 0.33%, to 2,864. The FOX 50 traded lower by 1.7 points to 954.

Materials issues like Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW) and Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) struggled the most on the day. Healthcare stocks like Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) and Gilead Science (NASDAQ:GILD) got a boost from mergers and acquisitions in the sector.

Bin Laden's death sent shockwaves through equities, futures and energy markets around the world.  U.S. futures jumped close to 100 points around the time the news was released, the Japanese Nikkei 225 climbed 1% and oil prices tumbled. However, more than 16 hours after the release, the market effects became fairly muted.

While the top terrorist's death doesn't necessarily have a direct impact the markets, it may have several nuanced effects in the long run, market participants say.

"How we feel about the country, how we feel about what our government accomplished has changed dramatically" in light of the events, Warren Buffett, chief executive officer of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway told FOX Business.

Bin Laden's death "adds to the good feelings that are out there," said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald, noting stocks have performed quite well this quarter. Although, analysts also warn concerns over a potential terrorist retaliation could pose trouble for the markets.

A continuous stream of strong first-quarter results from big-name players like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Ford (NYSE:F) ignited a rally that sent the blue chips higher by 4% last month and left the Nasdaq close to its highest mark in a decade.

Chrysler said Monday it posted a quarterly profit of $116 million in the first quarter of 2011 -- its first quarterly profit since emerging from bankruptcy.

Mergers and acquisitions activity has stoked Wall Street's bull run as well.  Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NASDAQ:TEVA) unveiled plans to buy Cephalon (NASDAQ:CEPH) for $6.8 billion, a substantial premium to a $5.7 billion offer Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:VRX) made for the firm.

The tug-of-war over over NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) continued Monday.  Nasdaq OMX Group (NASDAQ:NDAQ) and IntercontinentalExchange (NYSE:ICE) unveiled plans to take a cash-and-stock takeover offer worth roughly $11 billion directly to NYSE Euronext shareholders.

On the economic front, the Institute for Supply Management's gauge of manufacturing activity ticked slightly lower to 60.4 in April from 61.2 the prior month.  Economists were expecting the ISM manufacturing index to hit 60 for the month. Readings above 50 point to expansion in the manufacturing sector.

"This report indicates some slowing in national manufacturing growth," wrote  Barclays economist Nicholas Tenev in a note.  "However, expansion in the sector is continuing at a healthy clip."

The ISM report is considered by many analysts to be a key metric in determining economic strength and could have a broad market impact.

Seperately, fresh data show construction spending increased 1.4% in March -- easily besting Wall Street's forecast of a gain of only 0.4%.

Energy prices initially traded lower on news of Bin Laden's death, and then proceeded to gyrate between gains and losses much of the day.

Light, sweet crude lost 41 cents, or 0.36%, to $113.52.  Wholesale RBOB Gasoline settled lower by 5 cents, or 1.5%, to $3.35.

Gas prices at the consumer level continued rising Monday.  A gallon of regular gas cost $3.95 on average nationwide, up from $3.63 last month and $2.88 last year, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.  The highest level on record, according to the report, was $4.11 a gallon in July 2008.

In the foreign exchange market, the has been under substantial pressure in recent sessions, but managed to eke out gains Monday.  The greenback was up 0.01% against a basket of currencies and the euro lost 0.07% against the dollar.

Gold finished the day up 70 cents, or 0.04%, to a fresh record of $1,557 a troy ounce.

Corporate News

Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) introduced a new version of its BlackBerry Bold smartphone with an upgraded operating system.

Nasdaq OMX Group (NASDAQ:NDAQ) re-balanced its Nasdaq 100 index, signifiacntly reducing Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) weighting.

Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SPPI) garnered FDA approval for using Fusilev in patients with colorectal cancer.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares got a boost after analysts at Citigroup upgraded the video streaming and rental service to "buy" from "hold."

TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) settled a patent lawsuit with DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and EchoStar (NASDAQ:SATS).  Under the agreement, Dish and EcoStar will pay TiVo $500 million.

Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI) will buy International Coal Group (NYSE:ICO) for $3.4 billion in cash, creaing the second largest U.S. producer of steel-making coal.

Community Health Systems (NYSE:CYH) upped its buyout offer of Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC) to $7.25 a share from $6.00.

Foreign Markets

The English FTSE 100 was up 0.03% to 6,070, the French CAC 40 gained 0.05% to 4,109 and the German DAX climbed 0.18% to 7,528.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 soared 1.6% to 10,004 and the Chinese Hang Seng was down 0.36% to 23,721.