Stock prices seesawed throughout the session Monday in light holiday trading. Investors continued to watch the developing situation in Washington regarding the budget and debt ceiling.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose for the fourth consecutive session, up 64.15 points to 15,301.26. The Nasdaq composite index was up 23.40 points to 3,815.27, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 6.94 points to 1,710.14.
As the markets closed, investors were awaiting a meeting at the White House with congressional leaders on a possible agreement to avoid serious consequences if the debt ceiling is not adjusted.
Gold rose $8.40 to $1,276.60 an ounce and oil was up 39 cents to $102.41 a barrel.
Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) jumped 7.8 percent on reports that the company is in talks to get its service on cable operators’ set-top boxes.
St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE: STJ) rose 1.6 percent to $56.03 after the maker of heart-rhythm devices bought specialist device-maker Nanostim Inc. for $123.5 million.
Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE: WHR) lost 6.5 percent to $131.29 as Cleveland Research said appliance demand has softened in the past month.
Expedia Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE) slid 6.2 percent after Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) cut its rating on the online travel agency.
About 5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 14 percent below the three-month average.
The S&P 500 erased early declines as U.S. Senate Democratic and Republican leaders said they are optimistic about ending a partial government shutdown and preventing the nation from breaching the debt ceiling in three days.
The emerging agreement would suspend the debt limit through Feb. 7, 2014, fund the government through Jan. 15 and require a House-Senate budget conference by Dec. 15, according to a Senate source familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them.
The government will exhaust its $16.7 trillion borrowing authority Thursday. Without legislative action, the U.S. would start missing payments between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The government has been partially shut down since Oct. 1 after Congress failed to pass a spending authorization bill for the financial year. Some official services remain suspended and hundreds of thousands of workers are on unpaid leave.
The prospect of a U.S. default threatens the U.S. and world economies, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.
“If there is that degree of disruption, that lack of certainty, that lack of trust in the U.S. signature, it would mean massive disruption the world over,” Lagarde said in an interview on NBC. “And we would be at risk of tipping, yet again, into recession.”
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) last week began the earnings season for banks. JPMorgan reported its first quarterly loss under Chief Executive Jamie Dimon amid a $7.2 billion charge to cover the cost of litigation and regulatory probes. Wells Fargo reported record profit even as mortgage banking revenue plunged 43 percent.
Eight of 10 main industry groups in the S&P 500 rose as health care and energy stocks added at least 0.6 percent for the largest gains.
Netflix rose 7.8 percent to $324.36, leading gains among stocks in the Nasdaq 100 Index, which closed today at its highest level since 2000.
The online video-streaming service is in talks to add its application to the set-top boxes of U.S. cable-television operators including Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMSSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), according to three people familiar with the matter. The stock’s gains accelerated after Netflix said it ordered a 13-episode thriller series from Sony Pictures Television.
An S&P 500 index of homebuilders sank 1.2 percent. D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI) retreated 2.1 percent to $18.25 and PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) slipped 0.7 percent to $15.99.
Order prices may show slower growth in the third quarter as rising interest rates sap pricing power, and builders may increase incentives to generate demand in some communities, Bloomberg Industries said in separate reports today.
Expedia slid 6.2 percent to $48.51 as Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to “hold” from “buy,” citing transition risks following recent management changes at Expedia’s Hotels.com unit. The company faces increased competition in the U.S., Deutsche Bank’s Ross Sandler wrote in the note.
Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) fell 1.1 percent to $46.75. Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. cut its rating on the stock to the equivalent of hold, as the firm said 2013 is unlikely to be a “great year” for the pharmaceutical company and sees only average prospects for long-term revenue and earnings growth.