(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended on a flat note for the second straight day as investors weighed Chinese inflation data and domestic reports on the labor and trade market.
S&P 500 Index inched up 0.04 percent to finish at 1,402.79. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.08 percent to end at 13,165.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.25 percent to close at 3,018.64.
The National Bureau of Statistics reported that China's consumer-price index fell to 1.8 percent in July from 2.2 percent in June, cooling off for the fourth straight month.
The data from the world's second largest economy strengthened hopes for further policy easing from the policymakers even as optimism continues that the U.S. and Europe central banks may announce another round of stimulus to spur economic growth.
On the U.S. economic front, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits fell for the week ended August 4, a government data showed. Jobless claims declined 6,000 to 361,000 last week from a revised 367,000 the previous week, while economists projected 370,000 applications. The Department of Commerce reported that the trade gap for June narrowed more than forecast to $42.9 billion from $48.0 billion in May, while economists expected the deficit to stand at $47.5 billion.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: KSS, MNST, SPWR, MDRX, ETFC, RBN, NOK, RDEN, WIN, WIFI
In corporate news, Kohl's Corp. (NYSE:KSS) fell 1.23 percent after reporting a 20 percent decline in second-quarter earnings amid drop in sales and margins and the department stores operator reduced its full-year forecast. Yet, KSS's bottom-line beat market expectations.
Nokia Corp. (NYSE:NOK) gained 9.74 percent. The Finnish cell phone maker agreed to sell over 500 patents and patent applications worldwide to Vringo Inc. (NYSEAMEX:VRNG). Finnish software company Digia agreed to acquire the remainder of Nokia's Qt business for an undisclosed sum.
Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ:MNST) tumbled 9.69 percent after the Corona, California-based energy drinks company posted quarterly earnings that missed market expectations amid margin contraction.
SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ:SPWR) plunged 10.45 percent after the San Jose, California-based maker of solar electric systems forecast a loss for the third quarter.
Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ:MDRX) rallied 18.44 percent after the Chicago, Illinois-based clinical software provider lifted its earnings guidance for the full year.
Robbins & Myers Inc. (NYSE:RBN) surged 27.41 percent after the maker of engineered equipment agreed to be acquired by National-Oilwell Varco Inc.(NYSE:NOV) for $60.00 a share, or about $2.5 billion. The deal represents a premium of 28 percent to RBN's previous closing price.
E TRADE Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:ETFC) jumped 6.86 percent. The New York-based online brokerage company ousted chief executive Steven Freiberg and named Chairman Frank Petrilli as interim CEO.
Elizabeth Arden Inc. (NASDAQ:RDEN) advanced 12.99 percent after the maker of fragrance products guided first quarter and fiscal 2013 earnings above market expectations.
Windstream Corp. (NASDAQ:WIN) lost 7.46 percent after the communications services company reported a 44 percent drop in quarterly earnings due to higher costs and expenses.
Boingo Wireless Inc. (NASDAQ:WIFI) plunged 24.78 percent after Los Angeles, California-based posted lower-than-expected quarterly earnings and issued a downbeat forecast. WIFI shares were downgraded to "Hold" from "Buy" by Deutsche Bank analyst Brett Feldman based on weaker than expected results/guidance and increasing execution risk associated with the company's growth initiatives.
European markets closed mixed, with Germany's DAX edging 0.02 percent lower to end at 6,964.99. France's CAC40 rose 0.54 percent to finish at 3,456.51. U.K.'s FTSE 100 inched up 0.10 percent to end at 5,851.51.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index rose 0.61 percent to finish at 2,174.10. Japan's Nikkei 225 added 1.10 percent to end at 8,978.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 1.02 percent to end at 20,269.47. India's BSE Sensex finished at 17,560.87, down 0.23 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures added 0.12 percent to $93.460 per barrel while natural gas futures lost 0.41 percent to $2.921 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures inched up 0.23 percent to $1,619.7 per ounce and silver futures rose 0.05 percent to $28.090 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro shed 0.54 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2298. The British pound lost 0.14 percent against the greenback to 1.5634, while the dollar advanced 0.20 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.5900.