NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street wavered, oil slipped and the dollar weakened further against the euro in thin trading on Monday as major European markets were shut for Easter.
U.S. stocks were little changed, just below three-year highs, after strong first-quarter earnings. Seventy-five percent of S&P 500 companies that have reported beat analysts’ expectations, just above the average of the past four quarters.
Although oil prices turned lower in choppy trade, crude’s recent powerful surge is offsetting positive momentum from earnings, and as the day progresses stocks could fall, said Kevin Kruszenski, head of listed trading at KeyBanc Capital Markets in Cleveland.
“I could see some profit-taking after the advance we’ve had,” Kruszenski said.
A more tempered view of economic growth was taking hold across many markets.
“(There’s a) fundamental bias that the data is indeed slowing and higher gas prices will take their toll on the consumer,” said David Ader, senior government bond strategist at CRT Capital Group in Stamford, Connecticut.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 23.61 points, or 0.19 percent, at 12,482.38. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 1.70 points, or 0.13 percent, at 1,335.68. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 2.04 points, or 0.07 percent, at 2,822.20.
U.S. government debt prices rose as traders banked on the idea that even as the Federal Reserve’s second bond-buying program nears the end, the Fed will hold on to its portfolio and its current level of monetary accommodation for some time.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 2/32 in price to yield 3.39 percent.
With European markets closed and no major U.S. economic reports on the calendar, the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee that ends Wednesday will be the key event traders focus on to gauge the direction of monetary policy.
Traders and investors keenly await a planned news conference by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke after the FOMC meeting ends to see how the Fed plans to end its easy monetary policy.
The conference is the first regularly scheduled briefing by a Fed chief in the U.S. central bank’s 97-year history.
“The bond and currency market reaction is still an unknown and a significant risk,” said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.
The euro was up 0.14 percent at $1.4576, but the dollar was up 0.1 percent against a basket of major currencies at 74.070.
Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was up 0.31 percent at 82.08 yen.
U.S. light sweet crude oil fell 66 cents to $111.63 a barrel.
Spot gold prices fell $2.13 to $1,505.50 ounce.