According to analytics firm Kensho, the rapidity of the decline is relatively rare. WTI fell 21 percent from late June to early August. Since 1990, there have been 20 other episodes when WTI crude oil declined by 20 percent or more in a one-month period. A month following these episodes, the S&P 500 has been positive 65 percent of the time and the consumer staples sector trades positive 75 percent of the time.
While the energy sector rose 1 percent Monday, the S&P 500 gave up its early morning gains, and finished slightly lower, down just under 2 points at 2,180. Now traders are watching to see if the S&P will resume its rally, after breaking to a new high Friday.
"I continue to believe the path of least resistance does seem to be higher. We have been getting, and I do think we'll continue to get, the economic evidence to continue the advance," said Mark Luschini, chief market strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. He said it will be important to see if financials and technology can hold leadership. Both sectors were flat Monday, with the S&P technology sector slightly lower, off 0.1 percent, while financials gained 0.1 percent.
The NFIB small business survey is released at 6 a.m. EDT Tuesday, while second-quarter productivity and costs are released at 8:30 a.m. Wholesale inventories are at 10 a.m.
Earnings are expected from Norwegian Cruise Line, Coach, Scripps Networks, Charter Communications, Cinemark, Jacobs Engineering, Red Robin Gourmet, Wayfair, Echostar, NRG and Valeant Pharma before the bell.
Disney, American Renal, Yelp, SolarCity, CyberArk Software, Mylan, Ambac and SunPower report after the market close.