Stocks Go Backward Ahead of Busy Week

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock indexes tiptoed backward in Monday morning trading, ahead of a busy week of corporate earnings reports and a meeting of the Federal Reserve. Global stock markets were mixed, while the price of oil rose.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,169, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 21,541. The Nasdaq composite rose nearly 5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,392.

EARNINGS WAVE: More than a third of the companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report their second-quarter earnings this week, including many big technology names.

Analysts are expecting another round of strong reports this quarter and are calling for overall growth of 7.5 percent in earnings per share, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. They've been ratcheting up their forecasts in recent weeks - the call was for 6.1 percent growth a month ago - due to higher forecasts for technology and industrial companies.

If the stronger earnings do come through, it would help justify the big move stock prices have made to record highs this year.

FED FACTOR: The Federal Reserve's policymaking committee begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday, following its decision last month to raise short-term interest rates for the third time since December. The central bank also announced plans to start gradually paring its bond holdings later this year, a move that could cause rates to rise. Investors in recent weeks have questioned whether the European Central Bank will begin to tap the brakes on its own stimulus for the economy.

NERFED: Hasbro fell $9.44, or 8.1 percent, to $106.51 for the deepest loss among stocks in the S&P 500, despite reporting stronger-than-expected earnings for the latest quarter. The stock had already been up nearly 50 percent for the year before the earnings release, and analysts said some investors may have been nervous after Hasbro cited some softness in its Brazil and U.K. markets.

IMF'S FORECASTS: The International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for economic growth this year in Europe, Japan and China. But it also cut its outlook for the United States after Washington has had a more difficult time than expected in pushing through corporate tax cuts and other pro-business legislation. On the whole, the IMF left its forecast for worldwide economic growth at 3.5 percent.

MARKETS ABROAD: Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 0.6 percent, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.6 percent. South Korea's Kospi inched up 0.1 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent and India's Sensex added 0.7 percent.

In Europe, France's CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent, Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent and the FTSE 100 in London dropped 1 percent.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 41 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $46.18 per barrel. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, rose 43 cents to $48.74.

Natural gas fell 2 cents to $2.95 per 1,000 cubic feet, while heating oil and wholesale gasoline were both close to flat.

Gold rose $1.70 to $1,256.60 per ounce, silver gained 7 cents to $16.53 per ounce, and copper added a penny to $2.73 per pound.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was close to flat at 2.24 percent, and the two-year yield held steady at 1.34 percent.

CURRENCIES: The euro dipped to $1.1640 from $1.1677 late Friday. The Japanese yen slipped to 110.92 yen from 111.04 yen, and the British pound rose to $1.3031 from $1.3007.

(BE)