Closing Bell: Tech Stocks Rise in Quiet Trading on Wall Street

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Richard Drew/AP

Technology stocks Apple and BlackBerry helped push the Nasdaq higher Monday, but other major stock indexes ended the day's quiet trading session lower.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) added 9 points to 3,669. But the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) drifted down 5 points to close at 15,419 -- it's lowest close of the month -- and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) dropped 2 points to 1,689.

Shares of smartphone maker BlackBerry (BBRY) rose more than 10 percent to $10.78 after the company said it had set up a committee to explore a possible sale or partnership. The stock was Nasdaq's most actively traded Monday.

Shares of Apple (AAPL) the world's largest technology company, rose 2.8 percent to $467.36 after technology blog AllThingsD reported that the company is expected to present its redesigned iPhone in September.

Newmont Mining (NEM) and Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 index after the price of gold and silver advanced. Gold rose for a fourth day on reports of increased demand from China. Silver gained the most in three weeks.

J.C. Penney rose 2.3 percent to $13.17 after the company's board of directors weighed whether to take action against the retailer's largest investor, Bill Ackman.

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Ackman pressed directors to quickly replace CEO Myron "Mike" Ullman, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The board didn't take any immediate action regarding Ullman, though the situation remains fluid, according to the newspaper. Other big names weighing in on the Penney discussion Monday included George Soros (against Ackman) and Richard Perry's Perry Capital, both of whom own significant stakes in the retailer.

The stock market has been treading water this month as companies finished reporting earnings for the second quarter and investors considered when the Federal Reserve will start to ease back on its economic stimulus.

What's more, many traders are on vacation in August, contributing to low trading volume that can amplify market volatility.

The tepid August follows big gains for stocks for July, when the S&P 500 rose 5 percent. That was the biggest gain for the index since January. Stocks climbed that month after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured investors that the Fed would only ease back on its stimulus if the economy was strong enough to handle it.

More Stocks in the News

  • Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD) rose 5.2 percent to $22.52 after the stock was upgraded by an analyst at Janney Capital Markets on the expectation that the company will have stronger sales growth than previously expected.

  • Sysco (SYY), a food distributor, dropped by 5.8 percent to $32.99 after the company said that its net income fell 9 percent due to higher operating expenses and restructuring charges.

  • Vical (VICL) plunged 57 percent to $1.53 after the drug developer said that its potential cancer treatment failed in a late-stage study, and that it would shift its focus to infectious disease vaccines.

  • Steinway Musical Instruments (LVB), the manufacturer of pianos, saxophones and trumpets, said it received a buyout offer of $38 a share from an unidentified investment firm, topping an earlier bid by Kohlberg & Co. Shares of Steinway rose 9.3 percent to $39.59.

  • Tesla Motors (TSLA) fell 3.7 percent to $147.38 after Lazard downgraded the stock.

  • Shares of Dole Food Co. (DOLE) rose 5.3 percent to $13.49 after the vegetable and fruit producer agreed to be taken private by its 90-year-old Chairman and Chief Executive David Murdock after he raised his offer to $13.50 a share. Murdock is Dole's largest shareholder with a stake of about 40 percent.

What to Watch Tuesday:

  • The Commerce Department releases retail sales data for July at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time and data on business inventories for June at 10 a.m.

-Compiled from staff and wire reports.