Stocks ended flat in light trading Monday, as ongoing worries over Europe's economy and the looming "fiscal cliff" put a damper on gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average erased 0.23 points, to end at 12,815.16.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, tumbled to finish below 17.
Among key S&P sectors, telecoms and industrials ose, while utilities and techs lagged.
Trading volume is expected to be light with many traders out for the Veteran's Day holiday. While the stock market is open, the bond market and banks will be closed. There are no major economic data scheduled for release.
Last week, stocks posted their worst weekly losses since June, with investors concerned about the looming "fiscal cliff." And President Barack Obama added to market concerns on Friday by reiterating his commitment to higher taxes for the wealthiest. (Read More: 'Fiscal Cliff'—What Are the Options For a Deal?)
"I think our politicians will eventually come up with some sort of agreement, but in the meantime, indecision doesn't help markets," said Alan Valdes, director of floor operations and VP of trading at DME Securities. "Traders will be selling on rallies rather than buying on dips—that could drive the markets down but will also be on low volume."
China's trade surplus ballooned in October to its widest level in nearly four years, while export growth rose to a five-month high.
Meanwhile, European shares ended mixed. Euro zone finance ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels to discuss Greece's economic reforms. Greece's parliament passed its 2013 budget required by international lenders, but disagreements over aid for the debt-ridden nation could hold up the next tranche of assistance.
Best Buy announced former Williams-Sonoma executive Sharon McCollam will become its new CFO, succeeding James Muehlbauer. Shares of the ailing consumer-electronics company have tumbled more than 30 percent in the last year.
Research In Motion rose after the struggling smartphone maker said it plans to introduce its
Microsoft slid after CEO Steve Ballmer said the company's new Surface tablet had a "modest" start to sales because of limited availability.
Apple continued to slide, falling more than 23 percent since hitting its all-time high of $705.07 on Sept. 12.
Facebook gained ahead of the company's lock-up expiration this Wednesday.
D.R. Horton reversed early gains to turn lower even after the homebuilder reported earnings that beat expectations, thanks to a jump in orders. And rival Beazer Homes plunged after the company posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss.
Caterpillar eked out a gain even after JPMorgan cut its rating on the heavy equipment maker to "neutral" from "overweight" and lowered its price target to $90 from $109.
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
On Tap This Week:
TUESDAY: NFIB small business optimism index, treasury budget; Earnings from Home Depot, Vodafone, Michael Kors, Saks, TJX, Cisco
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, PPI, retail sales, business inventories, FOMC minutes, 13-F filings, Facebook lockup lifts; Earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, Staples, Tyco, Limited Brands, NetApp
THURSDAY: CPI, jobless claims, Empire state mfg survey, Philadelphia Fed survey, oil inventories, Fed bank of Chicago annual conf., credit card default rates reported; Earnings from Target, Wal-Mart, Viacom, Gap, Dell
FRIDAY: Treasury international capital, industrial production, e-commerce retail sales; Earnings from Foot Locker, JM Smucker, Ann
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