U.S. stocks fell on Monday, with investors adopting a cautious approach two days before the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting and quarterly earnings.
H&R Block leading declines on the S&P 500 after the tax preparer said the sale of its banking business to BofI Federal Bank had been bogged down by regulatory hurdles.
"Sentiment has been very negative; the markets have declined some and investors have gotten worried about economic growth, worried about Ebola, worried about interest-rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, and maybe about Bill Gross changing jobs. But really, we're still seeing, at least in the U.S., reasonable economic growth," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index climbed 6.3 percent to 15.46.
The Federal Open Market Committee releases minutes from its last session on Wednesday, with the Federal Reserve on track to conclude its bond purchases this month.
The unofficial launch of the third-quarter earnings season also starts Wednesday with results expected from aluminum-producer Alcoa, with eight additional S&P 500 companies slated to post results this week.
Hewlett-Packard rallied after saying it would divide into two companies; GT Advanced Technologies declined after Apple's partner in a sapphire glass factory in Arizona said it filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection.
"HP has had to do something for a while, but it doesn't mean necessarily that you're going to get stock prices that much higher, as each of those units still have issues," said Nolte.