A round of corporate deals helped the broad stock market eke out only its second day of gains this month.
Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. rose nearly 1 percent after the company said it would sell control of its Arby's restaurant business to a private equity firm that owns several other quick-service franchises, including Moe's Southwest Grill and Auntie Anne's. And clothing maker VF Corp., whose brands include Wrangler and The North Face, jumped 10 percent after agreeing to buy the boot maker Timberland for more than $2.2 billion.
When big companies use their cash to make an acquisition, it signals a belief that there are values in the market, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research.
"That's a good sign of confidence when we desperately need some," Detrick said.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.06 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to close at 11,952.97. The Standard and Poor's 500 inched up 0.85 point, less than 0.1 percent, to 1,271.83. The Nasdaq composite lost 4.04, or 0.2 percent, to 2,639.69
All three indexes are down more than 4 percent over the last month because of concerns that the U.S. economy is stalling. Stocks have fallen since late April following dismal reports on the housing market, manufacturing and jobs. On Friday, the Dow fell below 12,000 for the first time since March. The Dow and S&P index last gained on Thursday, following news that U.S. exports hit a record in April.
Energy companies in the S&P index lost 1.4 percent, the biggest move among the 10 industry groups that make up the index, after crude oil dipped to $97.30 a barrel.
Worries about the U.S. economy and concerns that Europe may fall into another fiscal crisis continue to impact bonds. Bond yields remained below 3 percent as investors continued to place a high value on safer assets. Standard & Poor's cut Greece's credit rating to CCC on Monday, two notches above default. S&P also said that it doubts the country will be able to sell bonds to finance its budgets in 2012.
Among U.S. corporations, Forest Laboratories Inc. rose nearly 2 percent after the drugmaker said a fund affiliated with billionaire investor Carl Icahn plans to nominate four directors to the company's board. And electronics retailer Best Buy Co., grocer Kroger Co. and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. will release earnings later in the week.
Falling shares slightly outnumbered rising ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 3.7 billion shares.