Stocks mixed; energy sector smacked by oil's drop

U.S. stocks mostly declined on Monday, with Chevron and Exxon Mobil among the blue chips hit as the price of crude fell to a more than two-year low.

"We're still reconciling with the performance of October," said Jim Dunigan managing executive, investments at PNC Wealth Management, who attributed positive earnings as helping pull the market out of its funk in the middle of the month. "At least for today, the market is going to wait and see what Americans do at the polls," Dunigan added of Tuesday's midterm elections.

Of the 366 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings for the third quarter, just over 75 percent have beaten expectations, while 58 percent have posted revenue that topped estimates, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Monday's economic reports had the Institute for Supply Management's gauge of manufacturing rising to 59 in October, matching August as the best reading since March 2011.

Separate data had construction spending falling 0.4 percent in September.

Sapient rallied after a French advertising company, Publicis Groupe, said it would pay $3.7 billion to buy the company. Covance jumped as Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings said it would purchase the supplier of research services for drug companies for about $6.1 billion.

S&P 500

After climbing 20 points to an intraday record, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 50 points, and ended down 24.28 points, or 0.1 percent, at 17,366.24, with Chevron pacing blue-chip losses.

Also rising to an all-time high just after the open, the S&P 500 shed a fraction to close at 2,017.81, with energy hardest hit as the price of crude marked its first close below $79 a barrel since mid-2012.

Diamond Offshore Drilling, QEP Resources, Noble and Transocean were among the energy companies on the decline.

Stepping into the red for the first time late in Monday's session, The Nasdaq recovered to end up 8.17 points, or 0.2 percent, at 4,638.91.

Decliners ran just ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 800 million shares traded. Composite volume surpassed 3.5 billion.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Oct. 31, 2014.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Oct. 31, 2014.

The U.S. dollar gained against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans rose a basis point to 2.3436 percent.

Dollar-denominated commodities including oil and gold fell on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where crude futures dropped $1.76, or 2.2 percent, to settle at $78.78; gold futures for December delivery sliding $1.80, or 0.2 percent, to $1,169.80 an ounce.

On Friday, U.S. stocks surged, lifting the Dow industrials and S&P 500 to record closes, after the Bank of Japan unexpectedly expanded stimulus, increasing hopes for the global economy.

Read More October not so scary; Dow, S&P close at record highs

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

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