From The Associated Press
NEW YORK —
The stock market edged lower in early trading Monday as a big week for economic news got underway.
A string of big-name merger deals wasn’t enough to push indexes higher.
On Wednesday the government will report its first estimate of U.S. economic growth for the second quarter, and on Friday it will publish its monthly jobs survey.
Both reports will give investors a better idea about the strength of the economy and what’s next for the Federal Reserve’s stimulus program. Investors will hear from the Fed on Wednesday after the bank winds up a two-day policy meeting. The central bank’s stimulus has been a major factor in supporting a four-year rally in stocks.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,688, as of 10:55 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Eight of the 10 sectors in the index fell. The declines were led by energy companies and banks.
The benchmark index is still up 5 percent in July. With just three days left in the month, the S&P is on track to have its best month since January. The index rose this month after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke assured investors that the Fed wouldn’t cut its stimulus before the economy was ready.
A trio of corporate deals caught the market’s attention Monday.
Saks rose 58 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $15.90 after the Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay, the parent company of Lord & Taylor, agreed to buy the luxury store operator for $2.4 billion, or $16 a share.
Omnicom Group jumped $3.74, or 6 percent, to $68.85 after agreeing to combine with France’s Publicis Groupe to create the world’s largest advertising company. Interpublic Group, another big advertising company, also rose 90 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $16.76.
Drugmaker Perrigo, fell $9.09, or 6.7 percent, to $125.14 after the drugmaker agreed to buy Ireland’s Elan for $8.6 billion.
The deals should be positive for the stock market in the long run, said Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Management. Companies are sitting on record cash balances and borrowing costs, though rising, are still close to record lows.
“Companies are struggling to grow organically,” said Veru. “So, how do they grow? They grow by buying other businesses.”
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 56 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,500. The Nasdaq composite fell 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,600.
Investors will also be focusing on corporate earnings this week.
Just over half of the companies in the S&P 500 index have reported earnings for the second quarter. Analysts are currently forecasting earnings growth of 4 percent for the April-through-June period, according to S&P Capital IQ.
In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.58 percent from 2.56 percent Friday. The note’s yield, which moves inversely to its price, edged up 0.1 percentage point last week.
In commodities trading, crude oil was little changed at $104.31 a barrel. Gold climbed $6.60, or 0.5 percent, to $1,328.30 an ounce.
The dollar gained against the euro, but fell against the Japanese yen.