Stocks closed in negative territory Monday, with the S&P 500 posting a decline for the third-consecutive session, as ongoing worries in the euro zone added to concerns over global economic growth.
“We’re treading water—there is a clear tug of war going on in the market,” said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co. “People are afraid to go against the actions of the central banks, yet the underlying fundamentals are having a tough time supporting the markets.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 20.55 points, or 0.15 percent, to close at 13,558.92, led by H-P and Intel. The blue-chip index ended lower for the 15th Monday in the last 16.
UnitedHealth ended lower after toggling in and out of positive territory for most of the day on its debut on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The health insurance company replaced Kraft Foods , which is splitting into two companies: Kraft Foods Group
The S&P 500 dipped 3.26 points, or 0.22 percent, to finish at 1,456.89. The Nasdaq declined 19.18 points, or 0.60 percent, to end at 3,160.78.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 14.
Among the key S&P sectors, techs and energy led the laggards, while utilities closed higher.
“It’s going to be a long time before Europe’s problems get behind us,” said Rex Macey, CIO at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors. “There are also worries over the fiscal cliff ahead so short-term, investors are a bit nervous…The market’s going to bounce around for a while until we get further clarity.” (Read More: Will the Euro Zone’s Bailout Firepower Ever Be Enough?)
European shares closed lower after German business sentiment dropped for a fifth-consecutive month, highlighting fears the motor of Europe may sputter as exports to troubled euro zone countries falter. The euro extended losses against the U.S. dollarfollowing the report.
In addition, reports that French and German lawmakers were struggling to agree on creating a banking union in the euro zone also weighed on futures. (Read More: Tables Turn on Spain With Pressure to Seek Bailout)
Apple fell even after tech giant reported that it sold more than five million iPhone 5 unitsin its first weekend. Meanwhile, JPMorgan said the five-million figure does not include pre-orders that the did not yet ship. Apple shares hit an all-time high at over $700 last week. (Read More: iPhone 5 Potential ‘100% Greater’)
Separately, Foxconn Technology, which assembles Apple's iPhones and makes components for top global electronics companies, closed a plant in China after a riot involving about 2,000 workersbroke out over the weekend. A staff member at the Taiyuan plant said the factory could be closed up to two to three days for police investigations.
Google closed at all-time highs at $749.38 a share. The search-engine giant is up nearly 30 percent quarter to date and is the fourth best performing stock on the Nasdaq 100 index this quarter.
Facebook was sharply lower after Barron's said shares of the social-networking giant are still overpriced and worth only $15. The stock plunged nearly 10 percent during its session low. (Read More: Options Traders Get Bullish on Facebook)
Dell and H-P slipped after Evercore cut its price targets on both tech companies to $12 from $14 and $18 from $19, respectively.
Questcor Pharmaceuticals plunged after the company said it was being investigated by a U.S. government agency over its promotional practices. In addition, at least three brokerages downgraded the company's stock.
Among earnings, Lennar posted earnings that beat expectationsand announced orders rose for the sixth-consecutive quarter. Still, shares of the homebuilder slipped along with the broader market.
—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: S&P Case-Shiller home price index, USDA food prices outlook, consumer confidence, FHFA home price index, Richmond Fed mfg index, 2-yr note auction, RIM developers conf.
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, new home sales, oil inventories, 5-yr note auction
THURSDAY: Durable goods orders, GDP, jobless claims, pending home sales, 7-yr note auction, farm prices; Earnings from Discover Financial, Nike, Accenture, Research In Motion, Micron
FRIDAY: Personal income & outlays, Chicago PMI, consumer sentiment; Earnings from Walgreens
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