Stocks spend another day in the red
NEW YORK — The Standard & Poor's 500 index notched its worst start to a year in nearly a decade on Monday, closing lower for the third consecutive trading day.
Although the declines in 2014 have been modest, the direction has been consistently down. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has fallen 1.2 percent from its most recent record close on Dec. 31.
The performance is a contrast to last year, when the S&P 500 surged almost 30 percent, its best annual gain since 1997. The banner year ended with the stock market climbing to record levels amid signs that the economy was strengthening.
“The market is basically looking for additional confirmation of economic strength and maybe marking time as it catches its breath from a pretty strong run at year-end,” said Jim Russell, a regional investment director at US Bank.
The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 4.60 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,826.77. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 44.89, or 0.3 percent, to 16,425.10. The Nasdaq composite fell 18.23, or 0.4 percent, to 4,113.68.
The last time the S&P 500 dropped on the opening three trading days of the year in 2005, the index climbed just 3 percent for the year.
Reports on the economy contained some hopeful signs.
Service companies grew at a steady but slightly slower pace in December. Sales dipped, and new orders dropped to a four-year low, according to a report from the Institute for Supply Management. The report suggests that growth may remain modest in the coming months.
Factory orders climbed 1.8 percent in November, led by a surge in aircraft demand, the Commerce Department said.
The most closely watched economic report of the week will occur on Friday, when the Labor Department is scheduled to release its jobs survey for December.
Company earnings reports also start coming out this week.