Stocks Listless Ahead of Busy Week

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock indexes stuck close to their record levels in early trading Monday, ahead of a busy week full of events that could swing markets. The Federal Reserve may raise interest rates, more countries around the world may move to shake up the economic status quo and several high-profile updates on the U.S. economy are scheduled for this week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index was virtually flat at 2,372 as of 9:52 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,887. The Nasdaq rose 4 points, or 0.1 percent to 5,865. Slightly more stocks rose on the New York Stock Exchange than fell.

FED FOCUS: Most investors expect the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates at its upcoming meeting, which ends on Wednesday. It would be only the third increase since the central bank slashed rates to a record low of nearly zero during the financial crisis in 2008.

Usually, rising interest rates are bad news for stocks because they make borrowing more expensive and can put the brakes on economic growth. But many analysts say this time may be different. As long as the pace of increases is gradual, these increases will only be getting interest rates back to normal rather than restricting the economy.

CENTRAL BANKS: The Fed isn't the only central bank meeting on interest rates this week. So are the Bank of England, Bank of Japan and others around the world.

Many economists expect the Bank of England to hold steady, but another action in London could garner even more attention. The government could formally begin the process of exiting the European Union. The U.K. voted to leave the union last summer, one of a growing number of examples of populations around the world trying to throw off the status quo.

The Netherlands has its own election this week, where politicians have also railed against the European Union and immigrants. Later this year, elections will also occur in France and Germany.

OTHER U.S. UPDATES: Several big U.S. economic reports are also on deck this week, including updates on inflation and retail sales.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, France's CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent, Britain's FSE 100 rose 0.4 percent and Germany's DAX rose 0.3 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.1 percent, South Korea's Kospi rose 1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 1.1 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 114.71 Japanese yen from 114.78 yen late Friday. The euro fell to $1.0666 from $1.0692.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.58 percent. The two-year yield rose to 1.36 percent from 1.35 percent, and the 30-year yield inched up to 3.17 percent from 3.16 percent.

COMMODITIES: The price of a barrel of benchmark U.S. crude oil inched up by 10 cents to $48.60. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 11 cents to $51.48 a barrel in London.

Gold rose $2.20 to $1,203 an ounce, silver rose 8 cents to $17 an ounce and copper rose 4 cents to $2.64 a pound.

(KA)