Stocks trade mixed after 6 weeks of losses

Stocks traded mixed Monday, stabilizing after six straight weeks of declines. Corporate deals helped encourage investors to look for values.

Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. said it would sell control of its Arby's restaurant business to a private equity firm that owns several other quick-service franchises, including Moe's Southwest Grill and Auntie Anne's. Wendy's shares rose 2 percent.

Clothing maker VF Corp., whose brands include Wrangler and The North Face, said it would buy the boot maker Timberland for more than $2.2 billion. VF Corp. jumped 10 percent.

The deals reassured investors that the economy may not be in as bad shape as many have feared. The Dow and the S&P 500 are both down 5 percent so far this month, while the Nasdaq is down 7 percent, as worries grow that the economy has hit a soft patch.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 11,967 in afternoon trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell less than a point to 1,272. The Nasdaq composite index fell 3, or 0.1 percent, at 2,641.

The Dow average and the S&P 500 have closed higher only one day so far in June, last Thursday, on news that U.S. exports hit a record in April. The Nasdaq has closed higher only twice this month.

When big companies use their cash to make an acquisition, it shows that they think there are values in the market, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

"That's a good sign of confidence when we desperately need some," Detrick said.

Stocks have fallen since late April because of concerns about the dismal housing market, slowing manufacturing and a sluggish jobs market. On Friday, the Dow fell below 12,000 for the first time since March.

The S&P 500 has also fallen about 7 percent from its recent peak in late April. If it drops 10 percent, it would indicate what's known on Wall Street as a correction. Corrections are common during bull markets and can often create buying opportunities.

The stock market's last correction started on April 23 of last year. By July 2, the S&P 500 had fallen 16 percent.

There have been 18 corrections in 12 bull market stretches since 1946, according to Standard & Poor's. They typically last four months and erase 14 percent of the stock market's value.

Many analysts are waiting for more economic news to get a better sense of the health of the economy and the direction of the market. Some analysts believe the market is heading toward a correction.

Reports on retail sales, business inventories, consumer prices and industrial production are due out later this week. Electronics retailer Best Buy Co., grocer Kroger Co. and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. will also release earnings.

Forest Laboratories Inc. rose 2 percent after the drugmaker said a fund affiliated with billionaire investor Carl Icahn plans to nominate four directors to the company's board.


AP Business Writer David K. Randall contributed to this report.