[Chart courtesy of MarketWatch.com]
The markets started the week lower, by and large there just wasn’t a lot of conviction on the part of either buyers or sellers. Amid a dormant economic calendar, stocks spent time on both sides of the flat line, but never put a whole lot of distance between themselves and that point for most of the day; only to limp to a soft close after ceding small gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 19 points (0.1%) to 15,335, the S&P 500 Index declined 1 point (0.1%) to 1,666, after climbing four straight weeks, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 3 points (0.1%) to 3,496. Energy stocks were the day’s top gainers in the S&P 500 while consumer staples were the biggest underperformers. The S&P energy sector index rose 1.3 percent. In contrast, the S&P consumer staples index fell 1 percent.
The lack of conviction was owed in part to a lack of stirring catalysts. Presumably, some hesitation ahead of Fed Chairman Bernanke’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday about the economic outlook played a part in today’s mixed market. The consensus on the Street believes the Fed is more likely to begin tapering its bond purchases later this year…