Stocks Slip, Led by Energy, Materials

Stocks continued to trade narrowly mixed after an unexpected jump in new home sales, and ahead of a week filled with key earnings reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 40 points after rallying last week on earnings news.

Among Dow components, DuPont , Alcoa , and Home Depot fell, while Bank of America rose.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both fell. The CBOE Volatility Indexrose above 15.

Most key S&P 500 sectors fell, led by energy, materials and consumer staples.

New home sales in Marchrose 11.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 300,000, slightly better than expected, and a reversal after three months of declines, the Commerce Department reported. The pace of new home sales remains far below a healthy pace, however.

In merger and acquisition news, Barrick Gold announced an agreement to buy Equinox for about $7.3 billion in cash.

NYSE Euronext said it saw savings in Deutsche Boerse's bid compared with the initial estimate.

And on Friday, Tenet Healthcarerejected a sweetened offer from from Community Health Systems, saying the price was too low to be in the best interest of shareholders.

A Coast Guard report said safety lapses by Transoceancontributed to the explosion of the Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago, causing the deaths of 11 workers and the worst oil spill in the history.

General Electric gained after Sterne Agee upgraded the diversified manufacturer to "buy" from "neutral." GE is a minority shareholder in CNBC's parent, NBC Universal.

Gold continued to trade at record highs above $1,510, and silver surged 5 percent, as the dollar continued to weaken against a basket of currencies.

Rising U.S. debt continues to send ripples through the markets, with a researcher at the Chinese central bank warning that China must watch out for yields rising on U.S.Treasurys.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake is due to hold a news conference later in the week, the first Fed news conference in a series of quarterly meetings with the press in an effort to increase transparency.

In earnings news, Kimberly-Clark dropped after reporting disappointing first-quarter resultsand saying the rising cost of pulp was expected to hurt profitability in the months ahead.

Johnson Controls also slipped, although the company delivered record sales and earnings in all its business segments.

Netflix reports earnings after the bell, but the earnings week really begins in earnest on Tuesday with results from Coca-Cola ,Ford , 3M and, among several others.

On the economic front, the government will release March new home sales figures at 10 a.m.

Asian stocks were mixed in thin post-Easter trade while markets in Europe, Australia and Hong Kong closed for Easter Monday.

On Tap This Week:

MONDAY: New home sales; earnings from Netflix.
TUESDAY: Consumer confidence; earnings before-the-bell from Coca-Cola, Ford, 3M, UPS, Coach, Cummins, Delta Air Lines, U.S. Steel and Valero, and after-the-bell from, Broadcom, Dreamworks, and Western Union.
WEDNESDAY: Durable goods, oil inventories; earnings before-the-bell from Boeing, BP, ConocoPhillips, Barrick Gold, Corning, Credit Suisse, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and after-the-bell from eBay, Starbucks, Allstate, Baidu, Citrix, Flowserve, and Norfolk Southern.
THURSDAY: GDP, jobless claims, pending home sales; earning before-the-bell from AstraZeneca, Deutsche Bank, Exxon Mobil, PepsiCo, P&G, Royal Dutch Shell, Sanofi-Aventis, Bristol Myers, Discovery Communications, Dow Chemical, Medco Health, Motorola Solutions, Occidental Petroleum, Pulte Group, Raytheon, Sprint Nextel, Starwood, Thomson Reuters, Time Warner Cable, and Viacom, and after-the-bell from Microsoft, Cliffs Natural Resources, and Motorola Mobility.
FRIDAY: Personal income, personal spending, Chicago PMI, Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment; earnings before-the-bell from Caterpillar, Chevron, Merck, DR Horton, Pitney Bowes, and Weyerhaeuser.

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