(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended on a flat note amid fresh concerns about the debt crisis in Europe and investors look ahead to data this week to measure the strength of the domestic economic recovery.
S&P 500 Index closed flat at 1,418.13. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.03 percent to end at 13,271.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.01 percent to finish at 3,076.21.
There were no major U.S. economic data due for Monday and investors weighed news from Europe.
Germany's Der Spiegel magazine reported that the European Central Bank (ECB) is considering setting interest rate limits on yields of euro zone sovereign bonds. The ECB downplayed the report, saying it was "misleading to talk about decisions not yet taken."
Germany's Bundesbank reiterated its resistance to the idea of an ECB bond-buying plan, saying government bond purchases "entail significant stability risks."
Domestic reports on tap this week include the latest minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee, housing data on new home sales and existing home sales as well as the weekly jobless claims report.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: AAPL, CVH, BBY, LOW, AET, ZAGG, COCO, BEBE
In corporate news, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares hit a new high on Monday, becoming the most valuable publicly-traded stock ever. AAPL's shares have rallied amid speculation the technology behemoth is preparing to unveil a new iPhone and smaller iPad. Shares closed 2.63 percent higher.
Coventry Health Care Inc. (NYSE:CVH) jumped 20.32 percent after it agreed to be acquired by rival Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) for $5.7 billion in cash and stock. AET shares rose 5.57 percent.
Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE:BBY) shed 10.41 percent. The Richfield, Minneapolis-based company appointed Hubert Joly, the former chief executive of hospitality and travel company Carlson, as its new CEO and president. Joly's appointment comes at a time when BBY's founder Richard Schulze has offered to take the company for $24 to $26 a share. Best Buy said Schulze has rejected an offer from the board to allow the formation of an investment group and required due diligence in furtherance of his proposal.
Lowe's Companies Inc. (NYSE:LOW) retreated 5.74 percent after the home improvement retailer reduced its forecast for the full year following lower quarterly earnings and sales that also fell short of market expectations amid a contraction in margins.
Bebe stores Inc. (NASDAQ:BEBE) tumbled 9.41 percent after the retailer of women's apparel announced that its president, Emilia Fabricant, resigned for personal reasons, effective Friday.
Zagg Inc. (NASDAQ:ZAGG) slumped 13.30 percent. The maker of accessories for mobile devices announced that its co-founder, Robert Pedersen II, has stepped down as chief executive and chairman. Pedersen sold 14 percent of shares last week following a margin call.
Corinthian Colleges Inc. (NASDAQ:COCO) fell 1.22 percent after the post-secondary education company posted fourth-quarter results that missed Wall Street expectations and offered a downbeat forecast for the first quarter.
European markets closed in red, with Germany's DAX down 0.10 percent to close at 7,033.68. France's CAC40 declined 0.22 percent to finish at 3,480.58. U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.48 percent to end at 5,824.37.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index declined 0.38 percent to finish at 2,106.96. Japan's Nikkei 225 inched up 0.09 percent to end at 9,171.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.06 percent to end at 20,104.27. India's BSE Sensex was closed for a public holiday.
Commodity & Currency Scan:
Crude oil futures shed 0.10 percent to $95.910 per barrel while natural gas futures added 2.06 percent to $2.775 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures inched up 0.25 percent to $1,623.4 per ounce and silver futures gained 2.70 percent to $28.845 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro advanced 0.09 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2346. The British pound rose 0.08 percent against the greenback to 1.5709, while the dollar lost 0.20 percent against the Japanese yen to 79.4000.