Wall Street near flat in holiday trade; euro near two-month lows

Mon Nov 12, 2012 4:50pm EST
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By Ellen Freilich

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended little changed after a lightly traded session on Monday as investors hedged bets before a policy debate aimed at heading off U.S. tax hikes and spending cuts early next year.

Firmer economic data from China and delays to an installment of Greek aid also were trading day topics.

News that Chinese exports rose sharply in October, signaling the giant economy was strengthening, argued for buying riskier assets. The safe-haven U.S. Treasury market was closed on Monday in observance of Veterans Day.

But stock market gains were limited, made tentative by concerns about the euro zone and possible higher U.S. taxes and spending cuts that could kick in early next year.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index remains up 10 percent for 2012.

In Chicago, grain futures tumbled amid a wave of technical selling, with soybeans sinking to a 4-1/2-month low that nearly erased gains from this summer's devastating drought.

Prices had already been under pressure after the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday raised its estimate for U.S. soybean production more than expected and increased its forecast for global inventories. Most actively traded January soybeans fell 3.08 percent to $14.065 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

The euro was flat against the dollar but near a two-month low, at $1.2707 as uncertainty about another tranche of financial aid for Greece to help pay off its debt kept investors cautious. The euro is down about 1.9 percent against the dollar so far in November.   Continued...

A visitor looks at market indices displayed at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo September 26, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao