As oil surges, US stocks drift sideways in another muted day

Major U.S. stock indexes drifted sideways in afternoon trading Monday, as a rally in energy companies was mostly held in check by broader declines elsewhere in the market. Energy sector stocks climbed along with the price of crude oil, which surged after the U.S. government moved to further block Iranian oil exports. The Trump administration said it will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, including China and Japan, the world's second and third largest economies. That helped the price of benchmark U.S. crude touch its highest level since October, and energy stocks in the S&P 500 climbed 1.9%. Communications and technology companies were also headed higher. Most other areas of the stock market were weaker, led by real estate companies. Raw material producers and health care stocks also fell. Homebuilders slumped following a report showing that sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell in March.

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