Stocks dipped on Monday as airline shares faltered amid security worries, while losses were limited by retail shopping data indicating improved consumer spending.
Airline stocks fell as the United States tightened airline security after a Nigerian man smuggled explosives aboard a transatlantic flight and attempted to blow up the plane.
On Monday afternoon, Al Qaeda's regional wing said it was behind the failed Christmas Day attack, according to a Web statement.
The airlines security concerns from the weekend certainly added a little heightened anxiety, said Michael James, senior trader at Wedbush Morgan in Los Angeles.
James also said traders were locking in profits with many investors absent from Wall Street over the holiday period.
On the store front, sales at U.S. retailers rose 3.6 percent for the period from November 1 to Christmas Eve, but gained only 1 percent when an extra shopping day this year was excluded, data from MasterCard Advisors unit SpendingPulse showed.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 6.20 points, or 0.06 percent, at 10,513.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 1.93 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,124.55. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 1.37 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,284.32.
Delta Air Lines Inc
Analysts said volume was light, with many participants off for the Christmas and New Year's holidays. The S&P 500 is up nearly 25 percent for the year, and investors are carefully placing bets to make sure they don't erode profits.
Even with light volume, the market seems to holding ground, said Tim Smalls, head of U.S. stock trading at brokerage firm Execution LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Historically the last two weeks are strong, with this week being stronger than last week, he said.
Energy shares rose with oil prices. U.S. oil futures rose 72 cents to $78.77 a barrel. Energy shares gained in sync with oil prices. The PHLX Oil Service index <.OSX> advanced 0.3 percent.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Jan Paschal)