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Stocks end mixed in quiet trading; BlackBerry up

Stocks slipped early trading Wall Street after Japan’s economic growth came weaker than analysts had expected. | AP file photo

Stocks slipped in early trading on Wall Street after Japan’s economic growth came in weaker than analysts had expected. | AP file photo

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Updated: August 12, 2013 3:21PM

NEW YORK — Stocks are closing mixed on Wall Street after a quiet day of trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped five points, or 0.04 percent, to 15,419 Monday. It’s the lowest level for the Dow in a month.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,689. The S&P is coming off its worst week since June following uninspiring corporate earnings news.

The Nasdaq composite rose nine points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,669.

Technology stocks were a bright spot. Apple rose after a report said an updated iPhone would be announced next month. BlackBerry jumped after saying it would consider putting itself up for sale.

More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was light at 2.8 billion shares.

Newmont Mining and Cliffs Natural Resources were among the biggest gainers in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index after the price of gold and silver advanced. Gold rose for a fourth day on reports of increased demand from China. Silver gained the most in three weeks.

BlackBerry jumped after the struggling smartphone maker said it would consider putting itself up for sale. Dole Foods rose after its CEO said he would take the company private and Steinway Musical Instruments rose after receiving a new buyout offer.

Stocks had opened lower at the start of the week after logging their biggest weekly loss in almost two months. By late morning the losses had been pared but stocks remained marginally lower.

The stock market has been treading water this month as companies finished reporting earnings for the second quarter and investors considered when the Federal Reserve will start to ease back on its economic stimulus. The U.S. central bank is buying $85 billion a month to keep long-term interest rates low, and many analysts are expecting that it will start reducing those purchases as soon as next month.

The tepid August follows big gains for stocks for July, when the S&P 500 rose 5 percent. That was the best performance for the index since January. Stocks climbed that month after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured investors that the Fed would only ease back on its stimulus if the economy was strong enough to handle it.

Any pullback in stocks, is presenting investors with a buying opportunity, said Doug Cote, chief market strategist with ING U.S. Investment Management.

“There will be some near-term volatility, but it’s a buying opportunity and a chance to get fully invested in the market,” said Cote.

Investors will get further clues about the strength of the economy this week when the U.S. Commerce Department publishes its July retail sales figures Tuesday. There will also be data on the housing market, industrial production and the Philadelphia Fed’s survey of manufacturing on Thursday.

The market’s reaction to the reports may be muted as many market participants are likely to be on vacation this week, said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds.

“When everybody is at the beach, it takes a louder bang to get the BlackBerries to start humming,” Kelly said.

Sluggish economic growth figures from Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, disappointed investors and that weighed on the stock market in early trading.

The 2.6 percent annualized second-quarter growth rate recorded in Japan was below the 3.8 percent rate recorded in the first quarter and the 3.6 percent predicted by analysts. Japan’s main stock index, the Nikkei, fell 0.7 percent on the news.

In commodities trading, the price of gold rose $22.20, or 1.7 percent, to $1,334.20 an ounce. Silver gained 93.3 cents, or 4.6 percent, to $21.34 an ounce.

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