Stocks closed flat in a choppy trading session Monday, as gains were limited after a disappointing factory orders report and amid worries over uncertainty surrounding the European debt crisis.
Right around the closing bell, ratings agency Egan-Jones downgraded U.K.'s credit rating to AA- from AA.
"The major problems for the UK is that Europe's banking crisis does not appear to be abating as evidenced by the miserable results of most EU banks," according to the company's report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 17.11 points, or 0.14 percent, to close at 12,101.46, led by Caterpillar and JPMorgan .
The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 0.13 points, or 0.01 percent, to end at 1,278.17. The Nasdaq gained 12.53 points, or 0.46 percent, to finish at 2,760.01.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, finished near 26.
Industrials and financials led the S&P sector laggards, while telecoms ended higher.
All three major indexes plunged more than 2 percent each last Friday, while the Dow wiped out all its gains for 2012.
“Everyone’s extremely hedged at this point—we have no earnings or economic numbers to speak of and we’re going to trade on headlines from Europe,” said Rick Fier, director of equities trading at Conifer Securities. “And with the unemployment report as terrible as it was last week, QE3’s something directly in Bernanke’s wheelhouse.”
While equities have an easier chance of trading higher in the short-term due to the bearish sentiment, Fier says the uncertainties surrounding the euro zone will give little reason for Wall Street to build on any gains.
European shares closed mixedin thin trade, with the U.K. stock market closed due to the extended bank holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. On the economic front, euro zone factory prices unexpectedly held steady in April, marking the fourth straight month of weakening inflation pressures.
Meanwhile, the rate of growth in China's service sector slowed for a second monthin May, according to an official survey of non-manufacturing purchasing managers.
Facebook shares hit another low, dipping below $27 and plunging more than 25 percent from its market debut price of $38, logging the biggest two-week loss of any IPO since 1995.Bernstein initiated coverage of the social-networking giant with a "sell" rating and a $25 price target. (Read More: What’s the Right Price for Facebook?)
Bank of America slipped even after Evercore raised its rating on the firm to "overweight" from "equal-weight."
Chesapeake Energy gained after the company agreed to replace four of its current board members, while Aubrey McClendon will remain as CEO. Southeastern Asset Management, Chesapeake's largest shareholder, will nominate three of the new directors, while billionaire investor Carl Icahn and his affiliates will pick the fourth.
Research In Motion fell below $10 for the first time since 2003. The Blackberry maker's shares are now down about 30 percent year to date.
Also among techs, Hewlett-Packard slumped near a seven-year low. It’s currently the worst component in the Dow this year, down nearly 20 percent.
Groupon tumbled to a new low, pulling the daily-deal website's market cap to under $6 billion. This comes after the company's restriction on insider selling expired last week.
Dendreon plunged more than 10 percent after rival Johnson & Johnson posted positive clinical results for a prostate cancer drug that competes with Dendreon's Provenge. In addition, Roth Capital slashed its price target on the firm to $6.70 from $12.
Among earnings, retail chain Dollar General is scheduled to report after the closing bell.
On the economic front, factory orders declined for the third time in four months, according to the Commerce Department.
The government employment report last week showed the U.S. added just 69,000 new jobs in May, while unemployment increased to 8.2 percent, fueling speculation that the Federal Reserve may commence another round of quantitative easing.
—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: ISM non-mfg index; earnings from Hovnanian
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, ECB announcement, productivity and costs, oil inventories, Fed's Beige Book, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed Basel III vote
THURSDAY: Bank of England announcement, jobless claims, Bernanke speaks, quarterly services survey, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks, consumer credit; Earnings from Lululemon Athletica, JM Smucker
FRIDAY: International trade, wholesale trade, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks, Chesapeake annual meeting
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