Wall Street wobbled through an indecisive session Monday, rallying late in the day and squeezing out a modest gain after the price of oil fell back from $66 a barrel. News of several large acquisitions carried some stocks higher.
Analysts said that with many traders on vacation and no economic news to guide the market, stocks were particularly vulnerable to concerns about soaring oil costs and the effect of rising interest rates on the economy.
"Higher oil prices, interest rates -- that puts downward pressure on price-to-earnings ratios," said Charles H. Blood Jr., senior financial markets analyst at Brown Brothers Harriman.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 10.66, or 0.1 percent, to 10,569.89. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 2.02, or 0.2 percent, to 1221.73. The Nasdaq composite index advanced 5.85, or 0.3 percent, to 2141.41.
PetroKazakhstan rose $8.35, to $53.75. China National Petroleum offered $4.18 billion for the Canadian oil producer, as Chinese companies continue their buying spree of energy assets worldwide.
Maytag fell 2 cents, to $18.69. The company signed a formal agreement to be acquired by rival appliance maker Whirlpool for more than $1.7 billion after investment firm Ripplewood Holdings reportedly said it wouldn't raise its offer for Maytag. Whirlpool declined 35 cents, to $81.48.
Merck slid 17 cents, to $27.89, continuing its decline following an unfavorable jury verdict Friday in the first lawsuit over its once-popular painkiller Vioxx.
Panacos Pharmaceuticals rocketed $3.25, or 46 percent, to $10.30, after the company reported that a recent mid-stage trial showed its experimental HIV drug reduced the amount of the virus in patients' blood by 90 percent.
H.J. Heinz Co. rose 39 cents, to $36.69. The ketchup maker said its profit slipped 19 percent in the fiscal first quarter, as higher costs offset sales growth led by increased North American volume. But setting aside one-time restructuring charges, Heinz's earnings and sales topped Wall Street expectations.
New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 28.00, to 7486.54.
American Stock Exchange index rose 1.05, to 1603.85.
Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 4.96, to 657.47.
NYSE: 1.62 billion shares, up from 1.56 billion on Friday. Advancers outnumbered decliners 5 to 3.
Nasdaq: 1.38 billion shares, up from 1.23 billion. Advancers outnumbered decliners 7 to 5.
Crude oil for September delivery: $65.45, up 10 cents.
Gold for current delivery: $438.10 a troy ounce, up from $437.20 on Friday.