NEW YORK (AP) — After an early-afternoon slump, U.S. stocks finished mostly lower Monday in a quiet day of trading. Banks fell along with bond yields as stocks declined for a third straight day.
Lower bond yields hurt banks because they force interest rates down on mortgages and other kinds of loans. Utility companies gave up some of their recent gains.
Most sectors didn't move much on the lightest trading day of the year. European markets mostly fell after the British government said it will formally begin the process of leaving the European Union next week.
Sameer Samana, a strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, said politics may keep investors occupied for the next few weeks as they wait for elections in France and a European Central Bank meeting, both next month, while legislators in the U.S. debate the proposed Republican-backed health care law.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.78 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,373.47. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 8.76 points to 20,905.86. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.53 points to 5,901.53. The Russell 2000 of small-company stocks fell 7.43 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,384.10.
The stock market has mostly been quiet this month. Its two big moves were both linked to the Federal Reserve: on March 1 stocks jumped after the central bank signaled it would raise rates, and they climbed last Wednesday after the Fed made it clear it will move slowly for the rest of the year.