SMALL GAINS: Major U.S. stock indexes closed higher Monday after drifting between small gains and losses for most of the day. Traders were waiting financial results from Alcoa Corp., whose release just after the closing bell marked the unofficial beginning of corporate earnings season.
GLOBAL SLOWDOWN: Analysts say the global economic slowdown is hurting U.S. multinational companies like Alcoa, which have soared because of demand from emerging markets.
WHITHER WHITE KNUCKLES? It was the fourth consecutive day of listless trading. The Dow Jones Industrial average stayed in a 75-point range. In the final five months of 2011, the average swing was 249 points.