US STOCKS-Wall St flat as global worries drag before earnings

* Aon to buy Hewitt for $4.9 billion

* Concerns remain over Europe’s bank stress tests

* Alcoa to report Q2 results after market’s close

* Dow off 0.02 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.1 pct
* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to early afternoon, changes byline)

By Matthew Lynley

NEW YORK, July 12 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) barely budged on
Monday as China’s weakening demand for materials and concerns over
Europe’s fiscal issues sapped interest before the start of earnings
season.

Early buying interest waned as investors remained cautious ahead
of the flow of earnings. Dow component Alcoa Inc (AA.N: ) reports its
second-quarter results after the closing bell.

“I get the feeling a lot of people are on edge. They’re
tentative. No one really knows what to expect” with this quarter’s
earnings, said Paul Brigandi, a trader with Direxion Funds in New
York.

Alcoa fell 0.5 percent to $10.89. Poor demand for materials could
hurt Alcoa’s results, as its quarterly estimate has been revised
lower by 32 percent in the last month, according to StarMine
reports.

The aluminum company’s stock has sent mixed signals from a
technical perspective of late. Alcoa is holding above its 14-day
moving average, but below the 50- and 200-day averages.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) dipped 1.82 points, or
0.02 percent, to 10,196.21. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: )
inched down 1.08 points, or 0.10 percent, to 1,076.88. But the Nasdaq
Composite Index (.IXIC: ) edged up 1.66 points, or 0.08 percent, to
2,198.11.

The S&P Materials index (.GSPM: ) slid 1.1 percent after Chinese
data over the weekend showed the country’s copper demand dropped,
sending Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc (FCX.N: ) down 4.3 percent
at $63.17. For details, see [ID:nSGE66B007]

Energy stocks slipped, but trimmed losses along with August U.S.
crude futures, which traded at $75.08 a barrel, off a session low of
$74.52. But August crude was still down 1.3 percent for the day. The
Standard & Poor’s Energy Index (.GSPE: ) was down 0.2 percent.

“We’re seeing a brief respite in crude selling. That’s sent a lot
of energy stocks up,” said Tom Schrader, managing director of U.S.
equity trading for Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets in Baltimore.

U.S.-listed shares of BP Plc (BP.N: ) rose 7.7 percent to $36.68
after the British company said it plans to put a new cap on the oil
leak in the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s stock also got a lift from a report
that BP was in talks with U.S. oil and gas company Apache Corp
(APA.N: ) over potential sales of assets worth up to $10 billion. For
details, see [ID:nN12179653] and [ID:nN11156383]

In addition to Alcoa, other Dow components set to report earnings
this week include Intel Corp (INTC.O: ), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: )
and General Electric Co (GE.N: ).

For the second quarter, analysts see earnings growth of 27
percent for companies in the S&P 500, according to Thomson Reuters
data, up from previous readings in the past three quarters, which
hovered around 22 percent. This would also exceed the 22.4 percent
analysts were predicting at the beginning of the year.
[ID:nN08195712]

News that Aon Corp (AON.N: ) will buy human resources company
Hewitt Associates Inc (HEW.N: ) for $4.9 billion in cash and stock
limited the market’s decline, with Hewitt up 32.4 percent at $46.87.
[ID:nSGE66B0DN].

Playboy Enterprises (PLA.N: ) shares surged 40.4 percent to $5.53
after owner Hugh Hefner offered to take the adult entertainment
company private.[ID:nN12177945]

Decliners outnumbered advancers by a ratio of slightly more than
2 to 1 on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)

US STOCKS-Wall St flat as global worries drag before earnings