U.S. stocks opened mixed on Monday, ahead of the release of U.S. economic reports as positive comments by Federal Reserve Chairman supported equity markets.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.20%, the S&P 500 index edged 0.14% higher, while the Nasdaq Composite index slipped 0.23%.
On Friday, Bernanke said the U.S. economy should continue to improve in 2014, but added that the recovery remains incomplete.
But investors remained cautious after data over the weekend showed that activity in China’s services sector slumped to the weakest level since August 2011 in December, fuelling concerns over the outlook for growth in the world’s second largest economy.
In the tech sector, Apple dropped 0.76% amid reports it is facing pressure from some shareholders to add more female directors and executives. The iPhone maker was said to have addressed the criticism by adding language to its corporate charter vowing to diversify its board.
Intel slipped 0.20% as Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich was preparing to take the stage at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Monday. According to Bloomberg, Krzanich is set to feature a first public showing of some of the mobile and wearable technology from Intel’s New Devices division.
Also on the downside, Twitter saw shares plunge 5.26% after Morgan Stanley reduced its rating on the social-networking company to "underweight" from "hold".
The auto sector was active, with General Motors shares climbing 0.86% following reports Chevrolet sales soared 25% in 2013, as U.S. auto sales post their the fourth consecutive year of rising.
Among financial stocks, JPMorgan Chase rallied 1.24% as the U.S. lender was reportedly planning to reach this week around USD2 billion in criminal and civil settlements with federal authorities who suspect that it ignored signs of Bernard L. Madoff''s Ponzi scheme.
Adding to gains, Men''s Wearhouse jumped 1.66% after it hiked its offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, days after the smaller rival increased its buyout defenses.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were mixed to higher. The EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.25%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.10%, Germany''s DAX edged up 0.17%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 added 0.15%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.58%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index plunged 2.35%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish data on factory orders, while the Institute of Supply Management was to release data on service sector activity.