The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 29 points, or 0.1%, to 16757 in midday trading. The S&P 500 index was off less than a point at 1936. The Nasdaq Composite Index was little changed at 4311.
The pause comes on the heels of a decline in stocks last week, as the fighting in Iraq dented sentiment and spurred a jump in oil prices. The S&P 500 index fell 0.7% last week in its biggest weekly percentage decline in two months.
Stock traders reported light trading activity Monday, with investors hesitant to make big bets on lower stock prices amid a backdrop of an improving economy and accommodative central-bank policies.
Manufacturing data released earlier in the morning gave a lift to sentiment. The New York Federal Reserve’s Empire State index of manufacturing activity for June rose slightly to 19.3 from 19.0 in May, versus expectations of a decline to 15.0.
Separately, industrial production rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in May, according to the Federal Reserve, while capacity utilization rose 0.2 point to 79.1% in May.
The steadily improving economic outlook has investors feeling comfortable buying stocks during pullbacks, helping keep major indexes parked near record levels, Iraqi oil exports are still flowing and immediate risks to production seem limited,” the analysts wrote. “After all, most of Iraq’s oil fields are located in the South, far from where the latest escalation in violence is taking place.”
Gold futures advanced 0.1% to $1,275.10 an ounce, after rising Friday for a fifth-straight session, the longest winning streak in three months.
And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note eased to 2.591% from 2.601% late Friday. Yields decline as Treasury prices rise.
European markets lost ground. The Stoxx Europe 600 declined 0.4. The dollar slipped against both the euro and the yen.
Asian markets were mixed, with Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average shedding 1.1% and China’s Shanghai Composite gaining 0.7%.