U.S. stocks struggled Monday to extend the rally from their best week of the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down eight points at 13,225. The Standard & Poor’s 500 and Nasdaq composite fared better after falling early. The S&P 500 was up a point at 1,405. The Nasdaq was up two at 3,057.
Last week, the Dow and S&P 500 rose 2.4 percent apiece, their best showing of the year. For the first time, the Dow closed above 13,000 and the Nasdaq above 3,000 on the same day.
Apple stock rose $5.33 to $590.90 on Monday after announcing that it would pay a shareholder dividend and buy back $10 billion of its stock over three years. The dividend will be $2.65 per share per quarter.
Apple’s stock has taken off this year, rising from $405 partly in anticipation of the dividend. The dividend could expand the company’s reach because some “value-oriented” mutual funds will now be allowed to hold the stock.
UPS rose 2 percent after announcing it would buy TNT Express, the second-largest express mail company in Europe, further cementing UPS’ status as the world’s largest delivery company.
There was little in the way of major economic indicators. The National Association of Home Builders index of builder confidence came in unchanged from the previous month.
“There’s not really a lot to say,” said Stephen Carl, head equity trader at Williams Capital Group. “I guess we could just toss a coin in the air and see which way it goes.”
European markets were mixed. The main stock indexes fell less than 1 percent in France, Britain and Germany. Stocks rose 1.7 percent in Greece and 0.7 percent in Spain.
Though Greece’s debt crisis has faded from the spotlight, Greece remains in deep recession, and uncertainty lingers. Unions throughout Europe are protesting cuts in benefits, making it difficult for governments to rein in their spending.
Leadership questions are also bubbling up, with the Greek finance minister stepping down to run the majority Socialist party and France gearing up for presidential elections.
At a conference Sunday in Beijing, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said that European leaders need to stay vigilant about debt.
“The world economy has stepped back from the brink, and we have causes to be a little bit more optimistic,” she said. “But optimism should not give us a sense of comfort and certainly should not lull us into a false sense of security.”
The price of oil continued to rise, inching above $107 per barrel. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose a penny over the weekend to $3.84 and is up 30 cents in a month, pushed higher by tension in Europe over Iran’s nuclear program.