US stocks wavered between small gains and losses with the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average struggling to push further into record territory a day after recording their record closes.
Stronger than expected housing data released by the Commerce department before the bell was offset by declines in energy stocks on a dip in oil prices.
According to the Commerce Department, US housing starts rose by an unprecedented 20.52% in April from a month earlier to about 1.135 million. This is the greatest rise in housing starts since November 2007.
Analysts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had forecasted that the starts would reach 1.01 million.
The S&P 500 Index was most recently trading at the flatline at 2,130 with about six of its ten key sectors trading in the red led by the energy sector.
Trading volume was predictably lower than usual with Monday recording the second lowest volume this year.
“Since closing at all-time highs last Thursday, the past two sessions have only seen us gain nine points on fairly lackluster volume, and the internals have not been very compelling either,” Andrew Adams, chief market technician at Raymond James, told Market Watch.
But he remained optimistic: “Unless we fall back into the sideways mess, I remain optimistic and will gladly take boring profits over exciting losses any day.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 25 points or slightly below 0.1% to record an intraday record of 18,323 points.
The blue-chip index was weighed down by a decline in Dow component Wal-Mart after the global retailer slipped 4% after earnings and sales missed Wall Street estimates.
The technology heavy Nasdaq Composite, the leading gainer among the benchmark indexes on Monday, traded flat at 5075.22 points. The tech heavy index is still 0.3% within its record close.
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