Stocks clawed back from their lows in the final hour of trading to finish in positive territory Monday.
Techs helped the recovery, with Apple having its best day in nearly five months. Topeka raised its fourth-quarter earnings and revenue expectations on the tech giant. In addition, Goldman Sachs reiterated its "buy" rating and $810 price target on the iPhone maker.
Major U.S. Indexes
The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain of 2.38 points, or 0.02 percent, to close at 13,345.89. The blue-chip index was down more than 100 points at session lows. Microsoft and GE led the Dow laggards, while H-P was the best performer.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded above 17.
"We need to hold above the 1,420 area on the S&P 500, which represents the highs back in April," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group.
Among the key S&P sectors, energy nd industrials ed the laggards, while techs edged higher.
"Heading into the election, I don't know if we're going to see any major moves up or down because we face tremendous amount of uncertainty," said Sheldon. "Volatility in the market has been extremely low in the last few months and given all the potential potholes out there, it would make sense to have a bit of protection."
On the earnings front, Caterpillar posted earnings that topped expectations, but revenue fell below estimates. The company also cut its full-year guidance. Still, shares of the construction and mining equipment maker turned higher after a weak open.
Peabody Energy soared to lead the S&P 500 gainers after the coal miner posted earnings that beat analysts' expectations. In addition, the company raised the lower-end of its full-year sales forecast and handed in a full-year profit outlook that topped estimates.
Also among earnings, Freeport McMoRan posted earnings and revenue that edged past Wall Street expectations. Still, shares of the metals and mining company slid.
And Hasbro posted earnings that beat expectations, but sales fell short of estimates, dragged by a drop in revenue at its boys and pre-school product lines.
So far, nearly 25 percent of S&P 500 companies have posted results so far, with almost 60 percent of firms posting earnings above estimates. Meanwhile, only about 39 percent of firms have topped revenue expectations.
European shares closed lower. Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy clinched election victory in his home region of Galicia in a result seen as overcoming a hurdle on the path to a formal bailout request.
On the M&A front, Ancestory.com jumped after the genealogy website agreed to be acquired by European private-equity firm Permira in a deal valued at nearly $1.6 billion.
With about two weeks to go before the U.S. presidential election on November 6, President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney will face off in their final televized debate at 9 pm ET. The most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put the two candidates tied at 47 percent.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
TUESDAY: Richmond Fed manufacturing index, 2-yr note auction, FOMC meeting begins, Apple event; Earnings from DuPont, 3M, United Technologies, UPS, Coach, Xerox, Amgen, Facebook, Netflix, Gilead Sciences
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, new home sales, FHFA home price index, oil inventories, 5-yr note auction, FOMC mtg announcement; Earnings from AT&T, Boeing, Bristol-Myers, Delta, Eli Lilly, Akamai, Symantec, Zynga
THURSDAY: Durable goods orders, jobless claims, Chicago Fed nat'l activity index, pending home sales, Kansas City Fed survey, 7-yr note auction; Earnings from Altria, AstraZeneca, ConocoPhillips, P&G, Aetna, AutoNation, Credit Suisse, Dow Chemical, Pulte, Sprint, United Continental, Apple, Amazon.com, Coinstar
FRIDAY: GDP, consumer sentiment, Windows 8 released; Earnings from Comcast, Merck
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