S&P closes essentially flat as investors wait for a catalyst

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 ended a languid session nominally lower on Monday, with investors standing by on news of a global minimum corporate tax rate, lingering inflation fears, and a lack of market-moving catalysts.

The Dow joined the S&P to close in negative territory, while the Nasdaq ended higher. Still, the S&P and the Dow remained within one percentage point of their record closing highs.

“Thematically, we’re done with earnings, so you have this lull in between earnings when what drives the market is economic data points,” said Joseph Sroka, chief investment officer at NovaPoint in Atlanta. “There’s not a lot of impetus for investors to take action today.”

“There’s been this flip-flop between whether inflation will be transitory or persistent, and the next card that gets flipped over for that is the CPI report on Thursday,” Sroka added.

Smallcaps outperformed as the ongoing retail frenzy boosted stocks whose recent explosive trading volumes have been attributed to social media buzz.

AMC Entertainment Holdings jumped sharply, extending the previous week’s 85% gain.

Other so-called “meme stocks,” including GameStop Corp and U.S.-listed shares of Blackberry Ltd also advanced.

“You’ve seen a decades-long, technology-enabled democratization of the market and there’s certainly groups of individual investors that flock to these ideas,” Sroka said. “We’re seeing speculative trading in an age of multiple outlets and social media amplifies the news.”

The Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies agreed on Saturday to back a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15%, a move Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called a “significant, unprecedented commitment” to bring what she called a race to the bottom on global taxation.

Lawmakers in Washington are doubling down on efforts to craft a bipartisan infrastructure spending package, with House Democrats expected to bring a bill to vote as early as Wednesday.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 127.01 points, or 0.37%, to 34,629.38, the S&P 500 lost 3.42 points, or 0.08%, to 4,226.47 and the Nasdaq Composite added 67.23 points, or 0.49%, to 13,881.72.

Shares of Biogen Inc surged following news that the Food and Drug Administration approved its Alzheimer’s disease drug aducanumab.

Data center operator QTS Realty Trust jumped on reports of a takeover deal by investment firm Blackstone Group worth $6.7 billion.

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean announced that six of its ships would begin sailing from Florida and Texas ports in July and August.

Its shares edged higher, and also lifted rivals Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang)