Dollar Drags on Stocks; Nasdaq Gains

Stocks ended mostly lower Monday as the dollar gained strength, dragging on commodity and other stocks, and investors took a breather after the recent run-up.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 lost 0.3 percent. But the Nasdaq rose 0.2 percent amid gains in biotechs after an upgrade.

The Dow's decline didn't come as a surprise to many market pros.

Stocks have gone too far, too fast, and are due for a retreat, Pimco's Bill Gross said this morning on CNBC.

"We think the market ... is due for a pullback or setback only because it's gone so far and economic growth cannot go so far," Gross said.

The Dow ended within 200 points of the 10,000 marklast week, its best weekly performance in two months. The last time the Dow breached 10,000 was early October.

American Express , which is up 84 percent year-to-date, shed 2.9 percent Monday, making it the biggest percentage decliner on the Dow.

Bank of America wasn't far behind, down 2.2 percent amid buzz that the bank's legal troubles over Merrill Lynch may prompt a shakeup at the top.

The dollar gained across the boardMonday, dragging on commodity prices: Oil dropped more than $2, settling at $69.71 a barrel.

It impacted a wide range of stocks, from commodities to multinationals: Alcoa and Caterpillar were among some of the other drags on the Dow. Dow energy components ExxonMobil and Chevron were also lower, as were multinationals such as Disney, McDonald's and Coca-Cola.

Caterpillar shares lost 1.8 percent as they had the added weight of news that equipment sales slowed in August.

The Nasdaq advanced, boosted by biotech stocks after a brokerage raised its rating on Celgene . Celgene shares rose 5 percent.

Dell skidded 4.1 percent after the computer maker announced that it is buying Perot Systemsfor $3.9 billion in cash and plans a tender launch for all of the computer-services company's Class A shares for $30 a share.

Perot shares jumped 65 percent.

And Applied Materials shed 2.8 percent after Caris downgraded its rating on AMAT to "average" from "buy," citing concerns about the chip-equipment maker's market share after a recent management shake-up.

Lennar declined 3.1 percent after the homebuilder reported its loss widened but said new orders are on the rise.

The week began with a relatively light economic calendar. In today's only datapoint: Leading indicators rose 0.6 percentin August, the fifth straight monthly gain and highest reading since January 2008. This came after a revised 0.9-percent gain in July and was slightly lower than the 0.7-percent uptick economists had expected.

President Barack Obama said innovation is the key to creating jobsduring a speech at a community college in Troy, NY. The president's push for his domestic agenda came ahead of weeklong meetings on international priorities.

Investors are now awaiting the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, which kicks off on Tuesday.

We'll also get a new round of Treasury auctions that starts Tuesday and will provide a read on demand for U.S. debt. Plus, readings on durable goods, consumer sentiment and home sales.

Financials were mostly lower but Citigroup advanced 4 percent.

And AIG soared 22 percent in heavy trading following news that the leader of a key congressional committee, Rep. Edolphus Towns, is considering a possible loan revision to extend the term of AIG's loan and lower the rate.

Dow component and CNBC parent General Electric advanced 1.6 percent amid speculation that Vivendi may sell its 20-percent stake in GE's NBC Universal unit. Vivendi, for its part, is keeping mum on its intentions.

Wynn Resorts fell 0.7 percent as the casino operator is reportedly set to increase the size of its Hong Kong IPO for its Macau casino assets, as it seeks to raise about $1.6 billion.

News Corp. took a shot across the bow at Facebook, announcing the beta rollout of an application that allows users to sync their MySpace status updates with their Twitter feed, so that the update will automatically appear in both places without having to type it twice. News Corp. said it plans a global rollout of the app in a few weeks. News Corp. shares fell 0.4 percent.

Volume was below average, after several days of being above average last week, with about 1.2 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Decliners outpaced advancers, roughly 2 to 1.

Still to Come:

TUESDAY: Two-year auction; two-day Fed meeting begins
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; weekly crude inventories
THURSDAY: G-20 summit begins; weekly jobless claims; existing-home sales; seven-year auction; Earnings from RIM
FRIDAY: Durable-goods orders; consumer sentiment; new-home sales; Earnings from KB Home

Send comments to