The major averages opened higher but struggled to hold those gains, trading in a range throughout the session.
As of the close, trade volume across the exchanges was on pace for the lowest of the year so far. Last week saw three of the lowest volume days of 2016.
U.S. crude oil futures trimmed losses to settle 0.2 percent lower at $39.39 a barrel.
"I think today the key is, as (long as) oil doesn't collapse here we should be fine," Klein said earlier.
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Consumer discretionary stocks led S&P 500 advancers in afternoon trade. Shares of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International were among the top gainers in that sector following news China's Anbang Insurance has raised its offer for Starwood to almost $14 billion, in the latest challenge to the U.S. hotel operator's merger with Marriott, Reuters said.
Boeing and Microsoft were the greatest contributors to declines in the Dow Jones industrial average, while 3M contributed the most to gains.
The Nasdaq composite failed to hold gains as declines in Microsoft, Apple and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) offset gains in Kraft Heinz, Gilead Sciences and Facebook.
Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals dropped 7 percent after news the firm's CEO has been summoned to testify at a U.S. congressional hearing on April 27, Reuters said. The firm is under scrutiny for significant drug price hikes. Last week, Valeant said CEO Michael Pearson would step down.
The major U.S. averages ended five straight weeks of gains on Thursday and were closed Friday for Good Friday.
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In economic news, consumer spending edged up 0.1 percent in February, after January's figure was revised lower to show a 0.1 percent gain versus the previously reported 0.5 percent rise. Personal income rose 0.2 percent.
Excluding food and energy, prices gained 0.1 percent after advancing 0.3 percent in January. In the 12 months through February, the so-called core PCE price index increased 1.7 percent after a similar increase in January, Reuters said.
The U.S. Department of Commerce also said the advance February goods trade deficit was $62.86 billion.
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The trade gap, wider than most expectations, and the downward revision in January consumption prompted several cuts to first-quarter GDP estimates.
Barclays lowered its first-quarter GDP tracking estimate to 0.9 percent, while Goldman Sachs cut its estimate to 1.7 percent.
The U.S. dollar index fell for the first time in six sessions. The index turned lower after the morning data to hold about 0.2 percent lower, with the euro near $1.12 and the yen at 113.42 yen against the greenback.
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"People are looking at this data, have now rolled back expectations on GDP," said Jason Leinwand, managing director at Riverside Risk Advisors.
However, he said the pullback in the dollar is likely temporary. "I think the Fed speak is more important than ... one data point," he said.
Treasury yields held lower, with the 2-year yield at 0.87 percent and the 10-year yield at 1.89 percent.
The Treasury Department auctioned $26 billion in two-year notes at a high yield of 0.877 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio, an indicator of demand, was 2.58.
Early on Monday ET, San Francisco Fed President John Williams told CNBC the U.S. economy was doing "quite well" and that global developments are preventing the United States from returning to normalized interest rates.
Fed officials have recently commented on the possibility of a rate hike as soon as next month, after central bank policymakers lowered projections for the number of hikes this year to two.
In other economic news, the National Association of Realtors said its pending home sales index rose 3.5 percent to 109.1 last month, the highest level in seven months. January's reading was revised to show a 3.0 percent decline, which was deeper than initially reported, Reuters said.