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Stocks close lower, but post two straight months of gains

U.S. stocks closed lower Monday, the last day of trade for November, as investors eyed retail results and readied for key data and central bank comments later in the week. ( Tweet This )

"When the market doesn't go down with the amount of bad news we threw at it in November, that's a good sign," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

Despite terror attacks in Paris, a downed Russian warplane and the worst week for China's Shanghai composite since August, the major U.S. averages still posted their second-straight month of gains, the first such win streak since May.

The S&P 500 eked out a 0.05 percent gain for November, while the Nasdaq composite gained more than 1 percent for the month. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the month up about 0.3 percent.

"We had the correction in the summer which was needed to work off that overbought condition, so that rebound in October and November was exaggerated because we got so oversold in September," said Lance Roberts, head of Streettalklive.com. He is watching to see if stocks can set new highs and break a topping process.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite are positive year-to-date, while the Dow remains slightly lower for 2015.

Major averages year-to-date


The major averages stocks closed near session lows after initially attempting slight gains.

Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities, said asset allocation on the last day of the month contributed to some selling pressure.

"A bad Chicago PMI is not going to alter the Fed whatsoever. The only thing that could alter the Fed is a bad jobs number," Klein said.

"Nothing really matters until Thursday's ECB decision and Friday's jobs report," he said.

Consumer stocks were among the laggards in the S&P 500, with health care trading more than 1 percent lower as the greatest decliner.

"I don't put a lot of stock into the reaction right now because I think investors are looking at Black Friday and Cyber Monday to see if consumers are spending ... or saving," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management.

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) closed down about 2.2 percent, giving up the recovery of the last two weeks to close the month nearly 2.9 percent lower.

Read More Retail stocks are not big performers on Cyber Monday

"The consumer is spending money. They're just not spending it on things where people like me are looking," said Ike Boruchow, Wells Fargo, managing director, retailing/department stores and specialty softlines.

"The group's in a position where any sign of good news could be very well received but I don't know the likelihood that there's a ton of good news out there right now," he said.

Shares of Target closed down nearly 1.3 percent amid reports the retailer's website temporarily crashed due to high traffic. The stock lost 6 percent in November.

Check out CNBC's retail coverage here

Energy led S&P 500 advancers Monday but closed well off session highs after crude oil gave up intraday gains of more than 1.5 percent to settle down 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $41.65 a barrel. WTI crude lost 10.6 percent in November, its worst month since July.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets Friday and is not expected to change its stance on letting the market set prices.

Nike was the greatest weight on the Dow Jones industrial average. Chevron and IBM contributed the most to gains.

Amazon fell 1.26 percent Monday but held a monthly gain of 6.2 percent.

Read MorePost-Black Friday, which retail stocks do well?

The November Chicago PMI came in at 48.7, in contraction territory and down from October's 56.2 print.

The pending home sales figure for October from the National Association of Realtors rose by just 0.2 percent, ending two straight months of declines but far below expectations for a 1.0 percent rebound, Reuters said.

In addition to Friday's key employment report, central banks will take center stage later in the week.

On Thursday, the European Central Bank is expected to expand its easing program and cut its already negative deposit rate.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen will address the Economic Club of Washington on Wednesday and testifies before the congressional Joint Economic Committee on Thursday.

"A very hectic week in terms of economic data, ECB, Yellen testimony," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. "I think the market is just going to do what it's been doing, which is inching its way higher."

Read MoreAll of this will drive markets in 'most important' week of year

U.S. stocks ended narrowly mixed in light volume trade Friday, under some pressure from declines in Disney and oil prices as investors eyed Black Friday shopping results.

Treasury yields traded mixed, with the 2-year yield higher near 0.93 percent and the 10-year yield lower at 2.21 percent.

The U.S. dollar index held above 100, just below the 100.39 high of the year hit in March. The euro remained below $1.06 around lows not seen since April and the yen traded near 123.08 yen against the dollar.

Read MoreThe IMF, the SDR and the yuan explained

The U.S. dollar held relatively steady against the Chinese yuan after the International Monetary Fund confirmed Monday it will include China's yuan, or renminbi, in an exclusive group of currencies that make up the basket of the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDR). The change, which was widely expected, is set to take effect next October.

"I think this is positive for the currency. I think the inclusion will shift the holdings of reserve managers," said Jason Leinwand, managing director at Riverside Risk Advisors.

Symbol
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Price
 
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DJIA
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S&P 500
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NASDAQ
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European stocks closed mixed, while Asian equities ended mostly lower. The Shanghai composite did close mildly higher for its second consecutive positive month for the first time since May, despite the index posting its worst day since August on Friday.

Read MoreEarly movers: WMT, LULU, AEO, LGF, SPLS, FB, TPUB, BUD, IHG & more

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 78.57 points, or 0.44 percent, at 17,719.92, with Merck and Wal-Mart the greatest decliners and Caterpillar leading advancers.

The Dow gained 0.3 percent for November, with Home Depot the greatest gainer and Cisco the worst performer.

The S&P 500 closed down 9.70 points, or 0.46 percent, at 2,080.41, with health care leading five sectors lower and energy leading advancers.

The index held a 0.05 percent gain for the month, with financials the best performer and utilities the greatest laggard.

The Nasdaq composite closed down 18.86 points, or 0.37 percent, at 5,108.67.

The Nasdaq gained 1.09 percent for November. Apple ended higher Monday but lost 1 percent for the month.

The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) closed nearly 2 percent lower but gained 2.7 percent for November, its second-straight month of gains.

The Dow transports closed down about 1.4 percent, off 0.3 percent for the month.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, held above 16.

Decliners were a step ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 1.3 billion and a composite volume of nearly 4.2 billion in the close.

Gold futures for December delivery settled up $9.60 at $1,065.80 an ounce. Gold futures for February delivery settled up $9.10 at $1,065.30 an ounce, but down about 6.7 percent for the month, their worst in nearly two-and-a-half years.

Copper futures lost more than 11 percent for the month, their worst since January.

On tap this week:

Tuesday

Monthly vehicle sales

9:45 a.m.: Manufacturing PMI

10:00 a.m.: ISM manufacturing

10:00 a.m.: Construction spending

12:45 p.m.: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans on economy and policy

8:00 p.m.: Fed Gov. Lael Brainard on rates and monetary policy

Wednesday

8:10 a.m.: Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart

8:15 a.m.: ADP employment

8:30 a.m.: Productivity and costs

12:25 p.m.: Fed Chair Janet Yellen at Economic Club of Washington

2:00 p.m.: Beige book

3:40 pm: San Francisco Fed President John Williams on outlook

Thursday

7:45 a.m.: ECB rate decision

8:30 a.m.: ECB President Mario Draghi news briefing

8:30 a.m.: Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester

8:30 a.m.: Initial claims

9:45 a.m.: Services PMI

10:00 a.m.: Fed Chair Yellen at Joint Economic Committee on economic outlook

10:00 a.m.: ISM nonmanufacturing

10:00 a.m.: Factory orders

1:10 p.m.: Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer on financial stability and shadow banks

Friday

OPEC meets in Vienna

8:30 a.m.: Employment report

8:30 a.m.: International trade

10:15 a.m.: Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker welcoming remarks at policy forum

11:45 a.m.: ECB President Draghi at Economic Club of NY

3:45 p.m.: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard on policy challenges

4:10 p.m.: Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota on policy renormalization

*Planner subject to change.

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