Stocks cut most of their earlier losses, but still finished in negative territory Monday as ongoing worries over the euro zone debt crisis kept investors from fully jumping in.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shaved most of its losses but still finished lower by 6.74 points, or 0.05 percent, to end at 12,653.72.
BofA and P&G led the blue-chip decliners, while Microsoft and Verizon climbed.
The S&P 500 fell 3.32 points, or 0.25 percent, to finish at 1,313.01. And the Nasdaq slid 4.61 points, or 0.16 percent, to close at 2,811.94.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended above 19.
Most S&P sectors closed in negative territory, led by financials, while techs turned higher.
“There’s not a lot of news to really push stocks either way today,” said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group. “The market does look like it’s ripe for some consolidation and at these levels, investors are nervous about chasing the market higher considering we’re not far from 52-week highs.”
EU leaders met in Brusselsto sign off on a permanent rescue fund for the euro zone. Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will be among them as negotiators in Greece race to secure a debt swap deal.
A FT report said that Greece had angrily rejected a German proposal to create a European budget “overseer” to monitor the country’s finances in return for a second bailout, further adding to investors’ anxiety on Monday.
A glimpse of hope for the debt-stricken region came in the form of a positive debt auction for Italy, which saw its borrowing costs for long-term debt fall sharply.
“If they can work out a situation to ring-fence some other countries in Europe and help stabilize Greece, that will take a big downside risk off the table,” said Sheldon. “But until that happens, investors are going to be pins and needles day-to-day and week-to-week.”