U.S. stocks slipped on Monday as a four-week rally encouraged investors to take profits, but McDonald's better-than-expected July sales pushed up the Dow component, briefly lifting the index to a positive territory.
The decline follows Friday's sharp advance, when the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed to a 10-month high after a better-than-expected July non-farm payrolls report gave investors reason to hope that the economy was on the cusp of a recovery. The S&P 500 is now up about 49 percent from its 12-year closing low set on March 9.
Today is considered a mild profit-taking day after a very good two months, said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 37.93 points, or 0.40 percent, at 9,332.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 4.76 points, or 0.47 percent, at 1,005.72. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 11.32 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,988.93.
Earlier, the Dow hit a session high at 9,371.96, less than 2 points above Friday's close.
Investors sold some shares of Boeing Co
Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc
But McDonald's Corp
Shares of Freddie Mac
Investors will keep hunting for signs of economic improvement when the Federal Open Market Committee releases its policy statement on Wednesday afternoon, at the end of its two-day meeting. The central bank is expected to hold interest rates near zero. But investors will watch closely for signals of an exit strategy from the Fed's efforts to prop up the financial system.
Later this week, July retail sales data will be released by the government. And quarterly scorecards are expected from a batch of major retailers, including Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney Co
(Editing by Jan Paschal)