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Upbeat factory data, Caterpillar earnings fail to dig U.S. markets out of hole

AFP-JIJI, AP

Stocks finished Monday mostly lower despite a stronger-than-expected manufactured durable goods report and a nearly 2 percent lift from Caterpillar earnings.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 14.05 points, or 0.10 percent, to 13,881.93.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 2.78 points, or 0.18 percent, to 1,500.18.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rose 4.59, or 0.15 percent, to 3,154.30, boosted by Apple.

Orders for manufactured durable goods rose to $230.7 billion, up 4.6 percent from November, the Commerce Department said.

Analysts had expected a rise of just 1.6 percent.

But December pending home sales, which were projected to be flat, instead fell by 4.3 percent.

Monday’s lackluster equity action came on the heels of rallies that have lifted stock indices to multiyear highs.

Slumping technology company Apple reversed recent losses and picked up 2.3 percent, replacing Exxon Mobil as the world’s largest company by market capitalization. Exxon Mobil fell 0.7 percent.

Caterpillar gained 2 percent after posting a big year-on-year drop in quarterly profit but suggesting business could pick up in the second half of 2013.

Research in Motion, which will launch its newest BlackBerry smartphone this week, gave up 7.8 percent.

Europe’s main stock markets closed mixed Monday as investors took a breath from a strong rally last week to digest mixed data from both the U.S. and eurozone.

At the close, London’s FTSE 100 index of leading companies rose 0.16 percent to 6,294.41 points, while Frankfurt’s DAX 30 dropped by 0.32 percent to 7,833 points. In Paris the CAC 40 edged up 0.07 percent to 3,780.89 points.