Financial markets drifted between small gains and losses in morning trading Monday, as investors weighed the implications of an election victory in Greece by a party opposed to that country's bailout plan. Traders also had their eye on the latest batch of earnings and corporate mergers.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial fell 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,658 as of 11:11 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 shed less than one point to 2,051. The Nasdaq composite added four points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,762.
GREEK ELECTION: Sunday's election victory by Greece's Syriza party, which has vowed to end painful austerity policies, has raised concerns about whether Greece will break free from the continent's monetary block. The country's current bailout plan concludes at the end of February.
THE QUOTE: "European markets reflected worse expectations for the outcome of this election and as a result they're seeing this as better-than-expected news," said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones. "Whereas U.S. markets are reacting to what uncertainty can come as a result of it."
SECTOR VIEW: Half of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 moved lower, with utilities dropping the most. Energy stocks led the gainers.
BAD MEMORY: Computer hard drive makers Seagate Technology and Western Digital were among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500 after Seagate reported weakness out of Europe. Seagate sank $5.80, or 9.1 percent, to $58.18, while Western Digital shed $8.03, or 7.4 percent, to $98.21.
TOYLAND TURNOVER: Mattel shares slid 4.2 percent on news that CEO Bryan Stockton resigned after about three years of leading the struggling toymaker. Mattel also reported preliminary fourth-quarter results that fell short of Wall Street expectations. The stock fell $1.19 to $26.85.
PACKAGED MERGER: Packaging company MeadWestvaco has agreed to merge with Rock-Tenn Co. to create a $16 billion company, which will be named before the deal closes. MeadWestvaco jumped 17.5 percent, to lead all stocks in the S&P 500. The stock gained $7.81 to $52.84. Rock-Tenn vaulted $5.76, or 9.1 percent, to $68.75.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 1.4 percent, while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares added 0.5 percent, underperforming its main European peers partly because Britain isn't in the 19-country eurozone.
ELECTION AFTERMATH: In Greece, the main stock market recouped some of its early losses to trade 3.2 percent lower, a sign that investors are not as jittery as they may have been in the initial aftermath of the election.
ASIA SCORECARD: Most Asian markets narrowed their early losses with Chinese stocks turning higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 finished 0.3 percent lower, while South Korea's Kospi was flat. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 0.2 percent higher. China's Shanghai Composite jumped 0.9 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 19 cents to $45.40 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price of oil has fluctuated since the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah late last week. Analysts said the king's death is unlikely to change Saudi's oil production levels, a key factor in the global prices, but it has created a small amount of additional uncertainty that has unsettled markets.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.84 percent.