U.S. stocks closed narrowly mixed on Monday, amid fresh lows on oil prices and earlier pressure on European stocks from Greece's failure to elect a president.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average had the narrowest range of trade for December, and the narrowest range since the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26.
The Russell 2000 and the Dow Utility Average closed up at new highs, up 4.75 percent and 31.14 percent for the year, respectively. Both indices have led market gains since the S&P 500 closed at a 1.5-month low on Dec. 16.
The S&P 500 posted its 53rd record close for the year, boosted by a 1.11 percent gain in the defensive utilities sector.
"Utilities are going up every single day," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group. "End-of-year momentum, chasing window dressing, is the reason."
Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital, attributed utilities' gain to investors looking for an edge in 2015.
"I think they have lagged," she said. "People buy the laggards."
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Crude oil futures settled down at $53.61, the lowest since May 1, 2009. Gold futures closed down $13.40, or 1.12 percent, to $1,181.90 an ounce.
"The market continues to react to the oversupply in crude oil and the reiteration by the Saudis that they're not cutting production," said Andrew Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates. "We're going to see $50 in the next couple of weeks for WTI."
Low oil prices have hurt the energy-sensitive region of Texas, according to December figures from the Dallas Manufacturing Survey. The general business activity index fell to 4.1 from 10.5, the weakest level since March.
"The Texas economy will of course be challenged in 2015 with 12 percent of its economy related to the energy industry," Boockvar wrote in a note. He highlighted quotes from the companies surveyed on the damage from falling oil prices.
With many traders on vacation between the Christmas and New Year's holidays, composite volume on the New York Stock Exchange was below 2 billion for most of the day.
"Anything can move the market. (It's) very sensitive because volume will be quite light," said Kurt Cambier, senior partner of Centennial Capital Partners. "People (are) holding positions until next year."
Cambier expects an 8 to 10 percent correction in January.
Investors will consider a few economic reports expected later this week "in the absence of anything else to chew on, but (they're) not market moving," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.