US stock market starts the week with a small loss

Friday, March 20, 2015, Vol. 39, No. 12

NEW YORK (AP) — A late turn pulled the stock market to a loss on Monday, as major indexes wavered following a strong run last week.

Kansas City Southern slumped 8 percent, the biggest fall in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, after the railroad operator trimmed its revenue estimates, pointing to falling fuel prices and the strengthening dollar. Its stock lost $9.21 to $106.48.

Major indexes started higher in morning trading, settled into an afternoon lull, then dipped down in the last 10 minutes of trading.

The S&P 500 fell 3.68 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 2,104.42.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 11.61 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,116.04 while the Nasdaq composite slipped 15.44 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,010.97.

Traders kept tabs on a meeting in Europe between the leaders of Greece and Germany for signs of progress in Greece's debt negotiations. Greece faces a cash crunch in the coming weeks and is in talks with its European lenders on what steps it must take to receive more loans. Greece's Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, committed to keeping a dialogue open on reforms that would qualify Greece for urgently-needed rescue loans.

Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial, said he expects the market to head higher over the coming months because there appears to be nothing on the horizon capable of knocking it off course. Investors have pushed the S&P 500 to all-time highs despite concerns over Europe's sluggish economy and slumping oil prices.

"Greece hasn't pulled it down, deflation hasn't pulled it down," McMillan said. "Unless the Federal Reserve says it's going to raise interest rates in June, I just can't see what's going to pull it down."

Last week, the S&P 500 jumped nearly 3 percent, its biggest weekly gain since early February. Investors cheered Wednesday when the Federal Reserve said that it was in no hurry to raise interest rates with inflation low.

Among other companies making moves, Gilead Sciences dropped following reports that the pharmaceutical company told physicians that nine patients taking its hepatitis C treatments developed slow heartbeats and that one died. Gilead slid $2.03, or 2 percent, to $100.26.

Tenet Healthcare surged 5 percent following news that the health care services company plans to launch a new hospital venture with a private equity firm. The company's stock gained $2.45, or 5 percent, to $52.07.

Major markets in Europe ended mixed. Germany's DAX lost 1.2 percent and France's CAC 40 shed 0.7 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 picked up 0.2 percent.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 finished with a gain of 1 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index surged 2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent.

Back in the U.S., bond prices inched up, sending yields down. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.91 percent from 1.93 percent late Friday.

In commodity trading, prices for precious and industrial metals climbed higher. Gold rose $3.10 to settle at $1,187.70 an ounce, while silver picked up a penny to $16.89 an ounce. Copper added 3 cents to $2.79.

The price of oil edged up amid signs that the growth in U.S. supply may be slowing. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 88 cents to close at $47.45 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, added 60 cents to close at $55.92 in London.

In other futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.6 cent to close at $1.804 a gallon.

— Heating oil fell 0.3 cent to close at $1.731 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 5.3 cents to close at $2.733 per 1,000 cubic feet.