Investing.com - U.S. stocks close flat Monday as gains were limited due U.S. fiscal cliff worries and the euro zone debt crisis continued to weigh on market sentiment.
At the close of U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average eased higher 0.01%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.01%, while the Nasdaq Composite index fell 0.02%.
Markets remained jittery amid concerns over the U.S. fiscal cliff, automatic tax hikes and spending cuts due to come into effect on January 1 unless lawmakers can reach an agreement, which could threaten U.S. and global growth.
On Sunday, Greece’s government approved a budget of spending cuts and tax increases for next year, just days after the parliament narrowly approved a EUR13.5 billion austerity package required to secure the country’s next installment of financial aid.
But investors remained cautious as euro zone finance ministers were to meet in Brussels later in the day to discuss whether to release a new tranche of funding to Greece.
Without the next aid installment, Greece risks default on November 16, when Athens must repay EUR5 billion of debts.
Apple saw shares climb 0.85% after it and HTC announced on Saturday a global patent settlement and 10-year licensing agreement that ends one of the first major conflagrations of the smartphone patent wars.
Meanwhile, Research In Motion said it plans to introduce its BlackBerry 10 on January 30, sending shares surging 3.51%.
In the Internet sector, China's Alibaba Group more than doubled its April-June net profit and grew sales by 71% for the period, proving the country's largest e-commerce firm has shrugged off intensifying competition in the sector.
Yahoo, which holds 24% of Alibaba, saw shares advance 0.72%.
Elsewhere, oil and gas major Exxon Mobil added 0.25% after saying it faces a USD3.3 billion spike in costs at its LNG project in Papua New Guinea, the latest Asia-Pacific project to be hit by cost overruns as competition is set to grow from new gas supplies coming on tap in North America and Africa.
Also on the upside, financial stocks were mostly higher, as shares in JP Morgan added 0.12% and Goldman Sachs advanced 0.59%, while Bank of America and Citigroup jumped 0.64% and 1.04% respectively.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were mixed. The EURO STOXX 50 slipped 0.25%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.35%, Germany's DAX rose 0.07%, while Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.4%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.21%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index dropped 0.93%.
Later Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to travel to Lisbon to hold talks with Portuguese political leaders, amid public opposition to the country’s austerity cuts.