NEW YORK - Major stock indexes bobbed between losses and gains Monday afternoon before ending the day higher, as uncertainty about the outcome of a budget battle in Washington pushed most world stock markets lower.
The Dow Jones industrial average is at 14,127.82, within 40 points of an all-time record of 14,164.53 and its second-highest finish ever. It gained 38 points, or 0.3%, on Monday.
Gaining 0.45% and 0.4% respectively were the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite.
Chinese shares dived because of government moves to cool high housing prices.
Democrats and Republicans in Washington have failed so far to agree on a way to roll back $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that took effect Friday. There is now no near-term deadline hanging over the head of fiscal policymakers that would force them to deal with rising federal budget deficit and the ballooning costs of entitlement programs.
Evan Lucas of IG Markets in Melbourne said he believes the budget fight is just "another political distraction that will cause some investors to cash out and buy back in on the dips."
On Friday, the Dow closed up 35 points to end at 14,089.66, the S&P 500 gained 3.52 points to 1518.20 and the Nasdaq climbed 9.55 points to 3169.74.
European stock markets ended Monday mixed. Britain's FTSE 100 index closed down 0.5% to 6,345.63. Germany's DAX 30 index finished down 0.2% at 7,691.68, but France's CAC-40 index ended up 0.5% to 3,709.76.
Stock markets in China were dragged down by property shares that tumbled after China's Cabinet ordered new measures to cool surging housing prices. The government said it will raise required minimum down payments in areas where prices are deemed to be rising too fast and crack down on efforts to evade limits on how many properties each buyer can acquire. The Shanghai Composite Index slid 3.7% to 2,273.40.
"The policy was already given out two weeks ago but last Friday, more details came out," said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong. That sent real estate shares lower. Hong Kong-listed Poly Real Estate plunged 10%. China Resources Land nosedived 8.9%. China Vanke, listed in Shenzen, toppled 10%.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.5% to 22,537.81. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines also fell.
Japan's Nikkei 225 bucked the negative trend, rising 0.4% to close at 11,652.29. Investors are seemingly in a buoyant mood ahead of a leadership change at the Bank of Japan. Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa will step down March 19, making way for a new chief who supports Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call for bolder monetary easing. The central bank meets Wednesday and Thursday for a regular monetary policy review.
Benchmark oil for April delivery was down 0.8% to $89.96 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.37 to close at $90.68 a barrel on the Nymex on Friday.
In currencies, the euro was steady at $1.3018. The dollar fell to 93.44 yen, a 0.2% drop. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury is at 1.88%.
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)