File picture: Alex Grimm

Global markets were mixed on Monday on expectations of further stimulus from top central banks, with stocks mostly flat and the euro edging slightly higher versus the US dollar.

US stocks were near break-even after edging up at the open, led by gains in Apple, which hit a new high above $680 after a patent court win over South Korea's Samsung Electronics on Friday.

Investors are looking ahead to a meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday for clarity on what the Federal Reserve will do to further stimulate the economy and how the European Central Bank will tackle the bloc's credit crisis.

“There's not much going on as we look ahead to Jackson Hole, and we might make some new lows in terms of trading volume going into that as investors wait,” said Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Management LLC in Fort Lee, New Jersey, which oversees $3.8 billion.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 25.46 points, or 0.19 percent, at 13,132.51. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.13 point, or 0.01 percent, at 1,411.00. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.68 points, or 0.15 percent, at 3,074.47.

The euro was little changed against the US dollar, holding most of its recent gains after a bigger-than-expected drop in German business sentiment raised hopes the euro zone's largest economy will do more to revive the bloc's growth.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.2520 after the sentiment survey was released but was holding below a peak of $1.2590 set last Thursday.

“The news clearly shows that Germany cannot escape unharmed if the rest of the euro zone falls into a deep recession,” said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX Strategy at BK Asset Management in New York.

“Therefore policymakers may now temper their insistence on austerity and instead will pursue more stimulative policies in order to revive growth in the 16-member union.”

This view got a boost on Monday from Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans, who said in remarks prepared for delivery in Hong Kong that the Fed should start a new round of monetary stimulus immediately, buying bonds for as long as it takes to produce a steady decline in the jobless rate.

A gauge of world equities was unchanged and the pan-European FTSE 300 stock index was up 0.4 percent.

The possibility of more bond buying from the Fed lifted prices of US Treasuries.

The benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was up 8/32, the yield at 1.6574 percent.

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi signaled earlier this month that the bank may start buying government debt to reduce crippling Spanish and Italian borrowing costs, comments that fueled a broad-based upturn in sentiment on global markets.

However, over the weekend Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann likened the ECB's bond-buying plans to a dangerous drug, pointing to growing unease over the policy.

Markets have also been unsettled by rising talk of a Greek exit from the euro zone, which has bubbled up again in recent days.

Gold prices hit their highest since mid-April on bets of more Fed easing, but then steadied on caution ahead of the Jackson Hole meeting.

Brent crude futures fell more than 1 percent in volatile trading after giving up gains of more than $1 per barrel as the weak German business sentiment and the prospect of lower crude oil use by US refineries shut by tropical storm Isaac weighed on prices. - Reuters