World Stock Market – May 20th 2014 …

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U.S. stocks were mixed Monday, as technology stocks and shares of small companies recovered while blue-chip names faltered. The S&P 500 was nearly unchanged at 1878, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose seven points, or 0.2%, to 4098.

The Russell 2000 small-cap index, which has been hit particularly hard over the last several weeks, rose seven points, or 0.6%, to 1103. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 15 points, or 0.1%, to 16476. The slide chipped away at the Dow’s 45-point climb on Friday, though the benchmark remains 1.4% below its record close of 16715.44 hit last Tuesday.

U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca fell 10% after the U.K. drug maker rejected what Pfizer said was a final increased takeover offer. Late Sunday, Pfizer made an overture that valued AstraZeneca at $120 billion. Pfizer led gainers in the Dow, rising 1.6%.

Stocks have struggled to make headway in 2014 following last year’s surge. A fitful economic recovery and uneven corporate earnings have given investors pause, while a selloff in high-growth corners of the market has led many money managers to embrace safer, more stable shares in recent months.

The U.S. economic calendar was bare Monday. Investors will be looking ahead to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting, to be released Wednesday, followed by data on jobless claims and sales of existing and new homes later in the week.

Data from China showed that home prices increased in April, but the pace of growth slowed for the six straight month. And prices for second homes in Beijing fell by the most in two years.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note eased to 2.511% from 2.518% late Friday. Crude-oil futures climbed 0.8% to $102.80 a barrel, while gold futures gained 0.7% to $1,302 an ounce.

The dollar lost some ground against the euro and the yen. European markets declined, with the Stoxx Europe 600 losing 0.3% after closing out last week with a fifth-straight weekly gain. Investors said there was no single catalyst for the weakness, with last week’s disappointing euro-zone growth figures, weak Chinese data and a big drop in AstraZeneca all adding to the negative sentiment.

There was some concern ahead of European parliamentary elections later this month, which look set for a strong showing from anti-European Union parties. Germany’s DAX 30 index lost 0.1% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 gave up 0.2%, while France’s CAC 40 tacked on 0.2%. Italian stocks bore the brunt of the selling, with the FTSE MIB index falling 1.5%. Asian markets were lower, with China’s Shanghai Composite losing 1.1% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average slipping 0.6%.

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