U.S. stocks fell on Monday, with investors adopting a cautious approach two days before the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting and quarterly earnings.
H&R Block leading declines on the S&P 500 after the tax preparer said the sale of its banking business to BofI Federal Bank had been bogged down by regulatory hurdles.
"Sentiment has been very negative; the markets have declined some and investors have gotten worried about economic growth, worried about Ebola, worried about interest-rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, and maybe about Bill Gross changing jobs. But really, we're still seeing, at least in the U.S., reasonable economic growth," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index climbed 6.3 percent to 15.46.
The Federal Open Market Committee releases minutes from its last session on Wednesday, with the Federal Reserve on track to conclude its bond purchases this month.
The unofficial launch of the third-quarter earnings season also starts Wednesday with results expected from aluminum-producer Alcoa, with eight additional S&P 500 companies slated to post results this week.
Hewlett-Packard rallied after saying it would divide into two companies; GT Advanced Technologies declined after Apple's partner in a sapphire glass factory in Arizona said it filed for voluntary bankruptcy protection.
"HP has had to do something for a while, but it doesn't mean necessarily that you're going to get stock prices that much higher, as each of those units still have issues," said Nolte.
After rising as much as 89 points and falling 79, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 17.78 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,991.9`, with Cisco Systems leading blue-chip losses that extended to 17 of 30 components.
The shed 3.08 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,964.82, with consumer discretionary pacing sector losses and telecommunications faring best among its 10 main industry groups.
The Nasdaq fell 20.82 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,454.80.
Decliners brushed just past advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where almost 696 million shares traded. Composite volume cleared 3.3 billion.
The dollar declined against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and dollar-priced commodities including gold and oil gained.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell 2 basis points to 2.416 percent.
On Friday, U.S. stocks surged, with the Dow industrials jumping 200-plus points, after a better-than-projected payrolls report bolstered a positive view of the U.S. economy.
Coming Up This Week:
Earnings: International Speedway, Yum Brands
10:00 a.m. JOLTs
100 p.m. 3-year note auction
2:30 p.m. Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota on policy
3 p.m. New York Fed President William Dudley on regional economy
3 p.m. Consumer credit
Earnings: Alcoa, Costco, Monsanto, RPM International, Ruby Tuesday
7:00 a.m. Mortgage applications
8:30 a.m. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans
1:00 p.m. 10-year note auction
2:00 p.m. FOMC minutes
IMF fall meeting
Chain store sales
8:30 a.m. Initial claims
9:00 a.m. Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser on monetary policy
10:00 a.m. Wholesale trade
10:30 a.m. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, opening remarks at St. Louis Fed conference
1030 am Oil inventories
11:00 a.m. ECB President Mario Draghi at Brookings, DC
11:00 a.m. Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer at Brookings on ECB
1:00 p.m. 30-year bond auction
1:10 p.m. Fed Gov. Daniel Tarullo on regulatory reform
1:15 p.m. Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker on growth and the labor markets
1:30 p.m. Fed's Fischer at IMF on global economy
3:40 p.m. San Francisco Fed President John Williams on economic outlook
Earnings: Fastenal, Infosys, Progressive
IMF fall meeting
8:30 a.m. Import prices
9:00 a.m. Philadelphia Fed's Plosser on monetary policy
1:00 p.m. Kansas City Fed Pr