Wall Street benchmarks eked out modest gains Monday despite a dearth of economic news and a general lack of interest among stock traders. A flurry of multibillion-dollar merger deals did little to encourage buying as uncertainty over the economy prevailed.

Without any economic reports or corporate earnings to provide insights, investors' questions about the economy -- and whether its slowing growth will be aggravated by high oil prices -- went unanswered, leaving many traders on the sidelines.

Wall Street's concerns overshadowed the latest round of mergers and acquisitions, topped by Washington Mutual's planned takeover of Providian Financial in the financial sector.

The light volume and a small ratio between advancing and declining stocks illustrated the market's malaise.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 6.06, or 0.1 percent, to 10,467.03. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 1.49, or 0.1 percent, to 1197.51, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 4.33, or 0.2 percent, to 2075.76.


Washington Mutual fell $1.03, to $40.54, as the company announced a takeover of Providian for $6.45 billion in cash and stock, or $18.71 per share, that would solidify Washington Mutual's position on the West Coast. Providian dropped 33 cents, to $17.63.

Catellus Development surged $3.75, or 12.8 percent, to $32.99 after Prologis announced it would buy the rival real estate investment trust for $3.6 billion in cash and stock and $1.3 billion in assumed debt. Prologis dropped $1.26, to $40.11.

E-Trade Financial climbed 25 cents, to $12.65, after reports that the online brokerage sweetened its unsolicited takeover bid for Ameritrade Holding by $500 million and offered Ameritrade a larger stake in the combined firm. Ameritrade rose 3 cents, to $14.93.

Apple Computer fell 32 cents, to $37.92, after chief executive Steve Jobs confirmed that the company would use Intel microprocessors in its Macintosh computers, ending a decade-long chip deal with IBM. Intel fell 16 cents, to $27.17, and IBM dropped 79 cents, to $75.


New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 15.28, to 7184.49.

American Stock Exchange index rose 8.70, to 1511.50.

Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 2.63, to 622.94.


NYSE: 1.17 billion shares, down from 1.29 billion on Friday. Advancers outnumbered decliners 3 to 2.

Nasdaq: 1.5 billion shares, down from 1.65 billion. Advancers outnumbered decliners 7 to 6.


Crude oil for July delivery: $54.49, down 54 cents.

Gold for current delivery: $426.50 a troy ounce, up from $423.70 on Friday.