NEW YORK – U.S. stocks closed slightly higher in a whipsaw session Monday as a drop in crude oil prices and a U.N.-brokered cease-fire in the Middle East eased investors' concerns about riskier assets.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.84 points, or 0.09 percent, to end at 11,097.87. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index edged up 1.47 points, or 0.12 percent, to finish at 1,268.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 11.33 points, or 0.55 percent, to close at 2,069.04.
The three major U.S. stock indexes cut gains of around 1 percent and more in late afternoon trading after oil pared its losses at the end of the trading session, while the S&P 500 failed to hold a key technical level and further spurred selling.
Technology stocks, which suffered sharp declines in the past few weeks as investors turned away from volatile sectors, were some of the Nasdaq's biggest gainers, with Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) and Intel Corp. (INTC) also buoying the S&P 500.
Shares of big energy-hungry industrial companies such as diversified manufacturers United Technologies Corp. (UTX) and General Electric Co. (GE) were among the Dow's biggest gainers. GE was No. 1 among the S&P 500's advancers.
"The market opened up strong because of lower oil and the cease-fire, but when the S&P got up around 1,280, which is a much ballyhooed level, it couldn't get past it and then just started drifting lower from that resistance level on fairly light volume," said Sal Arnuk, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
The Dow traveled about 123 points from its session high at 11,202.73 to its low for the day at 11,079.78, when it briefly turned negative and fell about 8 points below Friday's close.
The drop in crude oil prices prompted investors to sell some energy shares, with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) down 0.7 percent, or 48 cents, at $69.25 on the New York Stock Exchange, making it the S&P 500's biggest loser. Exxon Mobil also was among the heaviest weights on the Dow.
U.S. crude oil for September delivery fell 82 cents, or 1.1 percent, to settle at $73.53 a barrel as a truce to end five weeks of fighting between Israel and the Hizbollah in Lebanon took effect, and after BP Plc said it would keep half of its Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska — North America's biggest oil field — pumping while it carries out pipeline repairs.
Monday's stock market gains came after all three indexes settled down 1 percent or more last week despite the Federal Reserve's decision last Tuesday to leave interest rates unchanged after raising rates 17 times since June 2004.
Cisco Systems Inc. rose 2.8 percent, or 55 cents, to $20.09 and also ranked among the Nasdaq's major advancers. The network equipment maker's shares gained after Barron's newspaper reported the company is set to benefit from telecommunications companies upgrading their networks to handle next-generation services such as video.
Intel shares rose 2.6 percent, or 46 cents, to $17.87 on Nasdaq, while shares of United Technologies ended up 0.5 percent, or 32 cents, at $60.47 on the NYSE. General Electric Co. closed up 0.98 percent, or 32 cents, at $32.82, also in NYE trading.
Shares of Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFMI) jumped 7.5 percent, or $3.54, to $50.91 on Nasdaq after Barron's reported the organic grocer's stock was undervalued and poised to improve.
The heaviest weight on the Dow average was Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), which fell 1.6 percent, or $1.07, to close on the NYSE at $65.96 — reversing an earlier gain of 1 percent. Caterpillar's drop helped curb the Dow's gain for the day.
Volume was light on the NYSE, where about 1.40 billion shares changed hands, below last year's daily average of 1.61 billion. On Nasdaq, about 1.51 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 1.80 billion shares.
Advancers outnumber decliners on the NYSE by a ratio of about 6 to 5, while on Nasdaq, about five stocks rose for every four that fell.