U.S. stocks were little changed Monday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index at an all-time high, as a slump in small-cap shares and concern over Japan’s recession offset corporate deals.
The S&P 500 ended up 0.1 percent at 2041.32 in New York after earlier losing 0.3 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 13.01 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17647.75, about six points from an all-time high. The Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies lost 0.8 percent.
“I think the central theme for the day is overriding concern that global growth is continuing to decelerate,” Chad Morganlander, a money manager at St. Louis-based Stifel Nicolaus & Co., which oversees about $160 billion, said by phone. “There’s a hope that monetary policy will stay accommodative across the board, which has emboldened risk-taking.”
Japan unexpectedly sank into a recession last quarter as it struggled to cope with April’s sales-tax increase. The world’s third-largest economy shrank an annualized 1.6 percent, after a revised slump of 7.3 percent in the previous three months. That missed projections for a 2.2 percent gain in the third quarter.
In the U.S., industrial production dropped last month, weighed down by declines at utilities, mines and automakers that signal manufacturing started the fourth quarter on a soft footing. Separate data showed the Fed Bank of New York’s Empire Index increased less than forecast in November.
A pickup in manufacturing is needed to help bolster the expansion, now in its sixth year, as global growth from Europe and Japan to emerging markets cools. Rising consumer confidence and the drop in gasoline prices are brightening the outlook for holiday sales, indicating factories will get a lift in the next few months.
Mario Draghi presented European lawmakers with a list of policy resolutions for 2015, and said an expanded purchase program to help stimulate the economy could include government bonds. The European Central Bank president used his final quarterly testimony of 2014 to the European Parliament to call for political action that complements monetary policy, insisting his institution alone can’t fix the region’s economy.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. told investors to dump U.S. equities in favor of their European counterparts. The brokerage cut its rating on U.S. stocks to underweight, similar to a sell recommendation, from the equivalent of buy, while reversing the call for euro-area equities.
As enthusiasm for European stocks faded since the beginning of 2014, when bulls united in favoring the region, the lag versus the U.S. has now made them too cheap to ignore, according to JPMorgan strategists led by Mislav Matejka.
The S&P 500 climbed 0.4 percent last week, taking its rebound from a six-month low in October to 9.5 percent. The gauge has rallied to all-time highs as better-than-expected earnings and economic data have shored up confidence that the U.S. economy is able to weather a global slowdown even as the Fed winds down its bond-buying program.
Urban Outfitters Inc. and Agilent Technologies Inc. are among companies posting results Monday. Of the S&P 500 members that have reported this earnings season, 80 percent beat profit estimates and 60 percent surpassed revenue projections, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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