The Nasdaq composite outperformed slightly as Gilead Sciences and Microsoft gained. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) closed about 2 percent higher. Apple gained more than half a percent before erasing gains to end a touch lower after its product event, at which it unveiled a 4-inch iPhone.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals closed 7.4 percent higher, well off session highs touched after the firm announced that CEO Mike Pearson is leaving. The stock is still down more than 70 percent year-to-date.
Citigroup closed 0.14 percent higher after earlier rising more than 1 percent. KBW said in a Sunday note the firm "could be one of the only U.S. (global systematically important banks) that could successfully split up," a move that "should unlock meaningful shareholder value—50+% returns versus the current market capitalization."
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In economic news, existing home sales declined 7.1 percent in February to an annual rate of 5.08 million units, the lowest level since November, Reuters said.
The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) closed down 0.6 percent.
John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's, said the latest housing data indicated the U.S. economy would continue to grow at a moderate pace.
"The warning is the U.S. economy is not as strong as recent growth in non-farm payrolls would indicate. There's no question about that," he said.
Following the worse-than-expected home sales data, Goldman Sachs lowered its first quarter GDP tracking estimate by one tenth to 2.3 percent, according to a note from Goldman's Elad Pashtan.
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Ahead of the opening bell, the Chicago Fed national activity index posted a decline to minus 0.29 in February from 0.41 in January.
Early Monday morning, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker said U.S. inflation will likely accelerate in the coming years and move toward the Fed's 2 percent target, according to Reuters.
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said in a speech that a rate hike could come as early as next month. A non-voting member of the Fed's policymaking committee, Lockhart also said he expects continued job market improvement this year.
Separately, San Francisco Fed President John Williams said in a Friday interview with Market News International that if the data "continues the way I hope and expect, then April or June would definitely be potential times to have an increase in interest rates."
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is due to speak on economic inequality in the evening.
Markets are closed Friday for Good Friday.