NEW YORK - Wall Street had a mixed performance Monday as investors regained a cautious stance after disappointing news from Bank of America Corp. and Midwest bank National City Corp., and after another record-breaking tear in oil prices.
Investors were clearly uneasy about extending last week's big gains after Bank of America said its first-quarter earnings fell 77 percent on write-downs and widening credit losses. BofA's report followed a week in which big-name companies in general turned in better-than-expected numbers for the first quarter, helping the major stock indexes to gains of more than 4 percent.
Wall Street has at times worried that a slowing economy and a potentially hesitant consumer would crimp profits in the first three months of the year. Shares of National City dropped after the Midwest bank said it got a $7 billion cash infusion from equity investors, lowered its dividend and posted a $171 million loss for the first quarter. Still, the market performed relatively well Monday, climbing back from an early plunge. Part of the reason was that not all the earnings Monday were downbeat. Merck said its profit nearly doubled in the first quarter because of a $1.4 billion distribution from a partner drug company and a slight rise in sales.
With little in the way of economic data scheduled to arrive this week, investors are looking at a big flow of corporate reports for insights into the well-being of the economy. Investors remain cautious, but because they have already taken huge amounts of money out of stocks, the market appears stuck in a range - fluctuating as traders recoil at disappointing news but then take advantage of bargain prices.