US equity markets were broadly flat early on Monday (21 March) as oil prices gained ground, while the lack of releases on the economic calendar pointed to a fairly quiet week ahead of the Easter break.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.05% to 17,611.23 while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were 0.02% and 0.21% higher respectively after Wall Street extended gains for a fifth consecutive week on 18 March.
Oil prices waver before gaining ground
Oil prices rose, as Brent crude gained 0.77% to $41.52 (£28.84, €36.83) a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate edged 0.65% higher to $41.41 a barrel. Earlier in the session, oil prices had lost over 1% after data released on 18 March showed the number of oil rigs in the US increased for the first time in three months last week.
"This [the increase] indicates market concerns are resurfacing about global oversupply, with the resilient US shale industry the swing producer," said Michael Van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets.
Elsewhere, Chinese stocks ended the session at a two-month high as the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 2.15%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 1.25%. Their European counterparts, meanwhile, struggled for direction.
Apple to unveil new iPad
On the company front, Apple could be in focus as the iPhone maker is expected to unveil a 4-inch iPhone, new iPad and additional watch bands at an event held at its Cupertino headquarters later on 21 March. Analysts, however, indicated that it is unlikely the event will have a major impact on the tech giant's earnings.
Meanwhile, shares in Valspar surged almost 30% after the coating and paint products manufacturer revealed it has accepted an $8.9bn takeover offer from sector peer Sherwin-Williams.