(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended on a flat note as investors weighed an upgrade of the the country's credit-rating outlook against uncertainty about the outlook of the Federal Reserve's stimulus measures.
The S&P 500 Index slipped 0.03 percent to end at 1,642.81. The Dow Jones fell 0.06 percent to finish at 15,238.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.13 percent to close at 3,473.77.
Standard & Poor's (S&P) Ratings Services raised its outlook for the U.S. credit rating to "stable" from "negative", citing the strength of the U.S. economy.
"Low inflation may give the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) more leeway to continue its aggressive asset purchase program," said Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard. Inflation in the U.S. has surprised to the downside, Bullard said.
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"Labor market conditions have improved since last summer, suggesting the Committee could slow the pace of purchases, but surprisingly low inflation readings may mean the Committee can maintain its aggressive program over a longer time frame," Bullard added.
Investors are keenly watching economic reports and Fed speeches for any hints as to when the Federal Bank may taper the pace of its $85 billion monthly bond purchases.
Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke last month suggested the central bank could start winding down stimulus measures if the economy improved in a "real and sustainable way."
There were no major U.S. economic data released on Monday. Domestic economic reports of interest scheduled to be released over the week include: Federal budget balance, import prices, retail sales, weekly jobless claims, producer price index, industrial production and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.
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Japan's economy grew faster than initially forecast in the first quarter, a report from the Cabinet Office showed. Gross domestic product expanded an annualized 4.1 percent, up from a preliminary reading and economists expectations of a growth of 3.5 percent.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: MCD, FB, MON, GDOT, CSIQ, DVAX
McDonald's Corporation (NYSE: MCD) gained 1.27 percent after the restaurant operator posted stronger-than-forecast same-restaurant sales for May.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) climbed 4.46 percent after shares of the social-networking company were upgraded to "Buy" from "Hold" at Stifel Nicolaus.
Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) added 4.53 percent after shares of the seeds and genomics company were upgraded to "Outperform" from "Neutral" at Macquarie.
Green Dot Corporation (NYSE: GDOT) surged 10.07 percent after the provider of money management services agreed to acquire the reloadable prepaid cards from GE Bank with Walmart branding.
Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) jumped 15.45 percent after the company signed an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) agreement for the construction of a 130 MW DC Solar Power Plant in Ontario.
Dynavax Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: DVAX) slumped 43.42 percent after the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company reported feedback from meeting with the U.S. health regulators regarding its biologic license application for HEPLISAV, an investigational adult hepatitis B vaccine.
European markets ended mixed, with Germany's DAX up 0.64 percent to close at 8,307.69. France's CAC40 shed 0.21 percent to finish at 3,864.36. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.18 percent to end at 6,400.45.
Among Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 4.94 percent to finish at 13,514.20. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.18 percent to end at 21,615.09. India's BSE Sensex finished at 19,441.07, up 0.06 percent. China's Shanghai Composite Index was closed for a holiday.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures shed 0.21 percent to $95.83 per barrel and natural gas futures lost 0.68 percent to $3.80 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures inched up 0.20 percent to $1,385.70 per ounce and silver futures added 0.77 percent to $21.91 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro rose 0.29 percent against the U.S. dollar at 1.3256. The British pound gained 0.14 percent against the greenback to 1.5579, while the dollar jumped 1.12 percent against the Japanese yen to 98.6500.