NEW YORK - Stocks were little changed Monday as investors focused on strong holiday shopping results and looked past an interest-rate increase in China.
Many traders stayed home because of the snow and the holiday season, but the absence of selling points to growing confidence about the U.S. economy.
Data from MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse survey estimates that U.S. retail sales between Nov. 5 and Dec. 24 rose 5.5 percent from last year. Wall Street is anticipating that Tuesday's consumer confidence index for December will reflect this optimism.
Also expected Tuesday is the widely watched S&P/Case-Shiller house price index for October, which may not capture the exuberance seen in other more recent economic indicators.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 18.46 points, or 0.16 percent, to 11,555.03.
The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 0.77, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,257.54. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.67 points, also less than 0.1 percent, to 2,667.27.
Monday's trading was particularly light after a blizzard swept the Northeast, disrupting commutes for many people in New York's financial industry. Activity was already expected to be slow in a week sandwiched between the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
China's move over the weekend was the second time in three months that the country took steps to slow the pace of its economic expansion. Inflation jumped to its highest levels in two years in November.
Any slowdown in China affects companies worldwide and can drive a decline in many stock markets. Bank of America Corp. estimates that emerging markets like China account for 80 percent of the world's economic growth.
In the United States, financial stocks were up.
American International Group Inc. shares rose 9 percent, or $5.05, to $59.38 after the bailed-out insurer said it obtained $3 billion in credit facilities, marking another step on the New York company's road to recovery.
"We're in a transition period from a government-sponsored economy to a private-sector-driven economy," said Kevin Caron, a market strategist in Florham Park, N.J., at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., which oversees about $90 billion in client assets.
"AIG is one of the milestones for that. On a global basis, there's obviously concern about how investors, especially in commodities, will respond to tightening in emerging markets like China. Over here, most of the economic and corporate data seem to be moving in the right direction."
Bank of America shares closed up nearly 1.6 percent, or 21 cents, to $13.27, while Citigroup Inc. was up 1.9 percent, or 9 cents, to $4.77.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose slightly to 3.33 percent.