Investing.com - U.S. stocks were moderately higher on Monday, after French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met to discuss ways to increase fiscal coordination within the single currency area.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average eased up 0.02%, the S&P 500 index advanced 0.03%, while the Nasdaq Composite index added 0.02%.
After meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Berlin earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was optimistic that the European Union will be able to sign off its fiscal pact by the end of January.
Monday’s talks were closely watched as European leaders failed last year to come up with effective solutions to end Greece’s financial woes and a widening sovereign debt crisis in the single currency bloc that is threatening the global economy.
Sentiment was hit earlier by concerns over the ability of troubled euro zone nations to fulfill their sovereign funding needs continued to weigh, ahead of government debt auctions by Spain and Italy later in the week.
The financial sector was mixed higher as shares in Citigroup jumped 0.77% and Bank of America climbed 0.81%, while Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan declined 0.27% and 0.08% respectively.
Goldman Sachs was downgraded by Wells Fargo to "market perform" from "outperform" earlier, while Citigroup's efforts to sell its OneMain consumer lending unit to private equity buyers ended without a deal.
Meanwhile, General Motors shares were up 0.13% as the company and its joint ventures sold 2.55 million vehicles in China in 2011, up 8.3% from a year earlier.
Elsewhere, energy stocks added to gains with Chevron advancing 0.10% and Exxon Mobil rising 0.18%. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that his country would not recognize any ruling by a World Bank tribunal in a multibillion-dollar arbitration case with Exxon Mobil.
On the downside, Lions Gate Entertainment saw shares decline 0.36% as it is nearing a deal to buy "Twilight" movie producer Summit Entertainment for about USD400 million.
Bristol-Myers Squibb was also lower, with shares retreating 0.23% after agreeing to acquire Inhibitex for about USD2.5 billion to gain access to its promising hepatitis C treatment.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.16%, France’s CAC 40 eased 0.04%, Germany's DAX dropped 0.65%, while Britain's FTSE 100 retreated 0.43%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rallied 2.4%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index remained closed for the extended New Year's holiday.