U.S. stocks declined on Monday, with the Dow and S&P 500 retreating after an eight-week winning stretch, as investors took a cautious stance ahead of Friday's jobs report while considering a mixed start to the holiday shopping season and an upbeat gauge of manufacturing.
"We were kind of expecting a down week after eight weeks of being up. There is not a whole lot of incentive to put capital at risk, especially with the jobs report on Friday," said Ian Kerrigan, a Seattle-based investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, referring to the nonfarm payrolls report for November.
"We've had such a strong year, if the market wants to take a break in December, it's well deserved," Kerrigan added of year-to-date gains that have the Dow up 22 percent, the S&P 500 ahead more than 26 percent and the Nasdaq up 34 percent.
EBay rose after researcher ComScore reported online spending on Black Friday gained 15 percent to a record $1.2 billion.
But the overall holiday shopping season got off to a more tepid start. The National Retail Federation estimated that retail sales fell by 2.7 percent during the full Thanksgiving weekend to $57.4 billion.
"We suspect shoppers taking advantage of early 'Black Friday' sale prices cut into weekend totals," wrote Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist at Davidson Companies.
After meandering just above and below its record close of 1,807.23 set on Nov. 27, the S&P 500 also declined, losing 4.91 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,800.90, with telecommunications pacing declines that included eight of the S&P's 10 major industry groups.
After rising for six consecutive sessions, the Nasdaq declined 14.63 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,045.26.
Dow Chemical shares climbed after it announced its plan to sell parts of its commodities chemicals business, representing about $5 billion in annual sales.
For every share rising, more than two fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 667 million shares traded. Composite volume neared 3.1 billion.
The Institute of Supply Management's survey index showed manufacturing rose to 57.3 last month from 56.4 in October. Analysts had expected the index to drop to 55.0. Readings above 50 illustrate expansion.
"The national ISM didn't reflect the moth-over-month moderation seen in most regional surveys and likely is in response to continued stabilization in Europe, China, and signs of life in Japan and optimism that we will likely not see again more drama in D.C.," emailed Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group.
A separate report showed construction spending climbed 0.8 percent in October.
The dollar gained against other global currencies and the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.8 percent.
"I don't think 2.8 on the 10-year is particularly threatening. There is a level that is too high, we're just not there," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC, of the benchmark used in determining mortgage rates and other consumer loans.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures fell, with the most active contract down $28.50, or 2.3 percent, to $1,221.90 an ounce.
Crude-oil futures rose $1.10, or 1.2 percent, to $93.82 a barrel.
"For the stock market the story is seasonality; December is one of the best months of the year," said Greenhaus, noting that Wall Street has gained roughly 75 percent of the time in the final month of the year.
"It's a really strong month, so to start the month, that's probably the story. Then you add in the less provable numbers like performance chasing and window dressing," Greenhaus added.
—By CNBC's Kate Gibson
Coming Up This Week:
Monday: Earnings expected after the bell include Ascena Retail, Thor Industries and Krispy Kreme.
Tuesday: Motor vehicle sales for November. Earnings ahead of the bell include Bank of Montreal. Earnings expected after the close inlcude Bob Evans and United Natural Foods.
Wednesday: ADP employment report for November at 8:15 a.m. Eastern; trade deficit figures for October at 8:30 a.m. Eastern; ISM nonmanufacturing for November at 10 a.m. Eastern; New home sales for October at 10 a.m. Eastern; Federal Reserve's Beige Book at 2 p.m. Eastern. Earnings before the market open include Brown-Forman and Express. Earnings after the close are expected to include Avago Tech, Synopsys, Aeropostale, Guess and Mattress Firm.
Thursday: weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern; GDP revision for the third quarter at 8:30 a.m. Eastern; factory orders for October at 10 a.m. Eastern. Earnings expected before the open include Canadian Imperial Bank; Dollar General; Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion and Toro. Earnings expected after the market close include Cooper Cos., Ulta Salon, Esterline Tech, Finisar, Veeva Systems and Zumiez.
Friday: Nonfarm payrolls report for November at 8:30 a.m. Eastern; unemployment rate for November at 8:30 a.m. Eastern; personal income for October at 8:30 a.m. Eastern; consumer spending for october at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Core PCE price index for October at 8:30 a.m. Eastern and University of Michigan/Reuters consumer sentiment index for December at 9:55 a.m. Eastern. Earnings ahead of the open are expected to include Bank of Nova Scotia, American Eagle Outfitters and Big Lots.
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