Stocks closed mixed Monday, with the Dow edging closer to the psychologically-important 13,000 level and the S&P 500 holding near its key 1,370 level, but gains were limited as the Nasdaq was dragged down by heavyweights such as Apple and Google.
“We’re back to headline risk and with less fundamental news, you’re more susceptible to big market swings,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “The focus remains what’s going on in Europe and the yields.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 71.82 points, or 0.56 percent, to close at 12,921.41, led by P&G and Travelers .
The S&P 500 slipped 0.69 points, or 0.05 percent, to end at 1,369.57. And the Nasdaq slumped 22.93 points, or 0.76 percent, to finish at 2,988.40.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, closed near 19.
Among the key S&P sectors, utilities and financials led the advancers, while techs slumped, dragged by Apple and Google .
"We believe this could be a simple "collapsing" on its own weightgiven the year-to-date move," wrote Brian Marshall, analyst at ISI Group, referring to Apple's decline. Apple has surged almost 45 percent since the beginning of 2012.
BTIG was the latest firm to downgrade the tech giant's stock last week over concerns on the iPhone's pricing and the ability of customers to upgrade. Adding to woes, the Department of Justice sued Apple and five publishers, saying they colluded on ebook pricing.
Last week, U.S. stocks logged their worst weekly decline this year, on the heels of ongoing global concerns. (Week In Review: Alcoa Earnings to Nat Gas) Strategists who have been expecting a correction say the current pullback offers an opportunity for investors who may have missed the first quarter's robust rally.
“We’ll still make another leg down near the end of this week into the next—1,350 [on the S&P 500] should be the lows of the move,” said Seth Setrakian, co-head of U.S. equities at First New York Securities. “The Fed has made it clear that they’ll be there to protect the market and so any increase in stimulus or hint of QE should support equities as long as we don’t fall into a recession.”
At the market open, Wall Street cheered a better-than-expected retail sales report and some economists even added that the data could prompt analysts to raise their first-quarter growth forecastsfrom its current level of 2.5 percent.
However, a dismal reading on homebuilder sentiment caused the early rally to lose some steam, causing names such as Beazer and Lennar to reverse their gains.
Citigroup rose after the financial giant posted earnings that topped expectations, although revenue fell sharply. S&P raised its rating on the firm to "buy" from "hold." In addition, Barclays raised its price target on fellow financials JPMorgan and Wells Fargo .
Goldman Sachs is scheduled to post earnings Tuesday morning.
Also on the earnings front, Mattel plunged to lead the S&P 500 laggards after the toymaker's profit fell short of estimates, hurt by price increases on its Barbie and Hot Wheel toys.
Google and Oracle are due in court in San Francisco regarding their high-profile dispute over Smartphone technology rights. Settlement talks between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison have so far failed.
Wal-Mart's CEO Mike Duke earned $18.1 million in compensation in 2011, slightly down from $18.7 million in the previous year, as sales growth at the big-box retailer fell short of its goals.
Also on the economic front, business inventories gained in Februaryto a record $1.58 trillion and sales also increased, according to the Commerce Department. But manufacturing activity in New York plunged to 6.56 in April from 20.21 in the previous month, according to the New York Fed's Empire State Manufacturing Survey.
—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC—
Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: Housing starts, industrial, Citigroup shareholders mtg, tax day; Earnings from Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, J&J, IBM, Intel, Yahoo
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, oil inventories; Earnings from Abbott Labs, BlackRock, Bank of NY Mellon, Halliburton, Ebay, Qualcomm, Yum Brands
THURSDAY: Jobless claims, existing home sales, Philadelphia Fed survey, leading indicators; Earnings from BofA, DuPont, Morgan Stanley, Nokia, Travelers, Verizon, Microsoft, AMD, Capital One, SanDisk
FRIDAY: Earnings from GE, McDonald's, Schlumberger
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