By Damian J. Troise
Stocks closed mostly lower after wobbling most of Monday on Wall Street as the market comes off its first weekly loss in six weeks and investors move past the recent round of mostly solid corporate earnings.
The S&P 500 fell less than 1 point, or less than 0.1% to 4,682.80. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 12.86 points, or less than 0.1%, to 36,087.45. The Nasdaq fell 7.11 points, or less than 0.1%., to 15,853.85.
Trading was choppy as rising and falling sectors rotated throughout the day. Energy companies started the day weak, but gained ground by late afternoon as U.S. crude oil prices reversed from losses to a slight gain. Chevron rose 2.3%
Utilities and makers of household goods, which are considered less risky, made some of the broadest gains.
Bond yields rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.63% from 1.58% late Friday.
Communications companies were mixed after bouncing up and down throughout the day. Technology and health care stocks fell, countering gains elsewhere in the market.
Investors are shifting their focus from the latest round of mostly solid corporate report cards to broader economic issues. That includes supply chain problems, rising inflation and other issues that will determine the pace and breadth of economic growth through the rest of the year and into 2022.
Smaller-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 fell 0.4%.
“You’re going to see a lot of give and take in this market because of the uncertainty over inflation,” said Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Verdence Capital Advisors. “It’s going to be a much more challenging situation because people are anticipating a good holiday season, but are unsure about the catalysts for next year.”
Companies that rely on consumer spending, such as retailers, were mixed. Dollar Tree jumped 14.3% following reports that activist investor Mantle Ridge plans to push the discount retailer to take measures to increase its stock value.
Tesla continued sliding after CEO Elon Musk's latest move to sell a chunk of his stock. The electric vehicle maker's stock fell 1.9% on Monday and shed 15% last week.
Investors will get an update on the retail sector this week as several big retailers report their latest quarterly results. Home Depot and Walmart will report on Tuesday, followed by Target on Wednesday and Macy’s on Thursday.
Wall Street will also get a broader view on spending trends when the Commerce Department releases its retail sales report on Tuesday.
Investors will be watching for any signs that inflation is crimping business operations or consumer spending. Businesses have had to raise prices on a variety of goods to offset higher raw materials costs and are facing a wide range of supply chain problems. Consumers have so far taken price increases in stride, but analysts are concerned that they could start to pull back on spending because of the persistently rising inflation.
Discouraging reports on inflation from the Labor Department last week tripped up the broader market and sent major indexes to their first weekly loss in six weeks.
Elsewhere in the market Monday, buyout news helped lift several companies.
E-commerce mattress maker Casper surged 88.5% following news that is being acquired and taken private for about $308 million, less than a year after its public debut. Data center owners and operators CyrusOne rose 4.7% and and CoreSite rose 3.6% after announcing deals.
Updated on November 15, 2021, at 5:06 p.m. ET.