By Damian J. Troise
Stocks wobbled to a mixed finish on Wall Street Monday as the market’s momentum slowed down following its best week since July.
The muted trading comes ahead of a busy week of corporate earnings that could help investors find a smoother path ahead for stocks after weeks of choppiness. Investors are also trying to figure out how the broader economy will continue its recovery with COVID-19 lingering as a threat, while businesses and consumers face rising inflation.
The S&P 500 rose 15.09 points, or 0.3%, to 4,486.46, with stocks roughly split between gainers and losers. The benchmark index has been choppy for weeks. It rose 1.8% last week for its best week since July, though it shed 2.2% just two weeks prior.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 36.15 points, or 0.1%, to 35,258.61. The Nasdaq rose 124.47, or 0.8%, 15,021.81.
Technology stocks and companies that rely on direct consumer spending made broad gains, but were tempered by losses from health care and other companies. Chipmaker Nvidia rose 1.6% and Target rose 3.2%. Medical device company Medtronic fell 5.5%.
Energy stocks managed gains as U.S. crude oil prices bounced from small gains to losses. Prices have soared nearly 70% so far this year. Occidental Petroleum rose 4%. A mix of retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending also rose.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.58% from 1.57% late Friday.
The S&P 500 is still within roughly 1.1% of its all-time high set on Sept. 2, even with the swings within the broader market. Much of the churn is due to different sectors, such as technology stocks, shifting from leading gains to leading losses on any given day.
"For now, we're going to maintain this sort of rotational correction," said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. “It’s just that as each pocket goes through moments of weakness, there are pockets of strength that level it out."
Investors are busy reviewing the latest round of corporate earnings for a better picture of how companies fared through the surge of virus cases last quarter and how many are dealing with rising inflation's impact on costs.
A wide range of companies have warned that supply chain problems have been crimping operations and could dent their finances through the rest of the year. Wall Street is concerned that as businesses face higher costs they will pass them along to consumers and that could stymie spending and the broader economic recovery.
Health care giant Johnson & Johnson will report its latest results on Tuesday, as will streaming entertainment service Netflix. Investors will get a better sense of how airlines are recovering when several major carriers report results this week. United Airlines will report its latest results on Tuesday, with American Airlines and Southwest Airlines reporting their results on Thursday.
A mix of news outside of earnings impacted several stocks. Television broadcasting company Sinclair Broadcasting fell 2.9% after reporting a data breach. Toyota rose 1.3% after announcing plans to build a $1.29 billion factory in the U.S. to make batteries for gas-electric hybrid and fully electric vehicles.
Investors also have several pieces of economic data to review this week. The Federal Reserve on Monday reported a surprisingly big drop in industrial production. Nearly half of the 1.3% drop was caused by the lingering effects of Hurricane Ida.
Wall Street will also get more information on the housing market this week with the Commerce Department's report on housing starts for September on Tuesday and the National Association of Realtors' report Thursday on sales of previously occupied homes in September.
Updated on October 18, 2021, at 4:49 p.m. ET.