Manufacturing keeps stocks steady near record highs |
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The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The stock market held close to record levels Monday as a report showed that manufacturing remains on sound footing in the United States even as other parts of the global economy struggle. Falling oil prices weighed on energy stocks.

The manufacturing sector rebounded last month, matching a three-year high, according to The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers. The report was preceded by downbeat manufacturing readings from China and Europe, feeding concern that growth in these regions could slide.

The sluggishness overseas “put a little damper on the U.S. data,” said Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector analysis at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. “Really, where the concern lies, at this point, is overseas.”

Stocks are trading near record levels as strong company earnings helped the stock market recover from an early October slump. The market closed at an all-time high Friday when the Bank of Japan surprised investors by announcing it would increase its bond and asset purchases in an effort to stave off deflation.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.24 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,017.81. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 24.28 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,366.24. The Nasdaq composite gained 8.17 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,638.91.

Falling energy stocks weighed on the stock market, as the price of U.S. benchmark oil fell to its lowest level in more than two years. Oil slumped on reports that Saudi Arabia is cutting the price it sells oil to America as it tries to maintain its market share, Bloomberg reported.

Benchmark oil dropped $1.76 to close at $78.78 a barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, slipped $1.08 to $84.78.

Oil has fallen sharply in recent weeks as global supplies rise while demand for fuel trails earlier expectations.

Energy stocks in the S&P 500 index dropped 1.8 percent. The sector is down 3.3 percent for the year. The sector is the worst performer among the 10 industry groups that make up the S&P 500 index, and the only one to be down for the year.

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