Stocks were little changed at the open on Monday as political turmoil in Italy sparked worry the euro zone debt crisis could overwhelm the region's third largest economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 1.59 points, or 0.01 percent, at 11,981.65. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.33 points, or 0.03 percent, at 1,252.90. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.06 points, or 0.11 percent, at 2,683.09.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)