U.S. stocks finished lower on Monday, topping off a wild ride that had the Dow Jones Industrial Average trading in a more than 300-point range on either side of neutral as investors monitored the price of oil.
"Everyone keeps saying how great lower energy prices are, but it's the major global growth story that is at risk," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group.
"Japan, Europe and Russia are geographies that are struggling, with the U.S. on a relative basis looking like a superstar. But with the gravitational pull on U.S. growth rates and earnings, coupled with a stronger U.S. dollar, 2015 estimates are under re-evaluation, that's in part what markets are telling us now," said Jim Russell, portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor.
The Dow moved up and down more than 100 points during Monday's session, and event that last occurred a year and a half ago, on June 12, 2013.
"We've got a pattern now of as goes oil, so goes the market. It doesn't necessarily make sense, but that's the nature of the beast until it's not," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.
"When we see any asset class falling precipitously, it's difficult for other asset classes to catch a bid," Hogan added.
After falling to a low of $55.87 a barrel, crude-oil futures for January delivery dropped $1.90 to $55.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest closing level since May 2009.
After surging 78 percent last week, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty known as the VIX, fell 3.1 percent to 20.42.
PetSmart gained after agreeing to be purchased for about $8.25 billion by a group led by BC Partners.
Equities offered muted reaction to a gauge of home-builder sentiment falling a point in December after a large jump last month.