The benchmark S&P index closed at its highest level since mid-2008 on Monday, extending gains for a third session as oil prices retreated after recent sharp gains and data showed further improvement in the U.S. housing market.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 1.44 points, or 0.01 percent, at 12,981.51. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 1.90 points, or 0.14 percent, at 1,367.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 2.41 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,966.16.

The S&P marked its highest close since June 2008.

(Reporting By Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Leslie Adler)