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The close: Dow moves closer to record while TSX slumps Add to ...

Stocks ended mixed on Monday – with gains among U.S. indexes following an afternoon recovery, and another commodities-driven decline from Canada’s benchmark index.

The S&P 500 closed at 1525.20, up 7 points or 0.5 per cent, marking a 13-point rebound from its earlier low. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 14,127.82, up 38.16 points or 0.3 per cent. The blue-chip index is about 22 points shy of a new record-high close.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,707.41, down 65.71 points or 0.5 per cent.

While automatic U.S. spending cuts, due to political disagreement in Washington, are weighing on sentiment, investors also digested weak economic news from China, which weighed on stocks at the start of trading.

There, the country’s services industry slowed in February: The purchasing managers’ index fell to 54.5 last month from 56.2 in January – but still above the expansion threshold of 50. As well, the government has moved to cool the housing market with tougher regulations. Overnight, the Shanghai stock exchange composite index slumped 3.7 per cent.

However, the vice-chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, said that the Fed should continue its asset purchase program in an effort to provide economic stimulus – further easing concerns that the central bank could withdraw stimulus sooner than expected. In the Fed’s minutes from its last policy meeting, some officials had said that the costs and risks associated with the asset purchases were potential trouble.

Apple Inc. fell 2.4 per cent to $420.05 (U.S.), bringing its decline to 40 per cent from its record high in September. This year alone, the shares have slumped more than 20 per cent.

Key commodities were relatively unchanged. Gold rose 10 cents to $1,572.40 an ounce, up 10 cents. Crude oil fell 56 cents to $90.12, dipping below $90 a barrel earlier in the day.

Canadian commodity producers were weak, though. Suncor Energy Inc. fell 0.9 per cent, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. fell 2.5 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 2.7 per cent, touching a new 52-week low.

However, Aurizon Mines Ltd. rose 3.2 per cent after it agreed to be acquired by Hecla Mining Co. in a deal that values Aurizon at $4.75 (Canadian) a share. The Hecla offer topped a previous offer from Alamos Gold Inc. by 10 cents a share.

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