U.S. stocks traded mostly lower on Monday, as banks and utilities companies led the declines, while energy shares pared losses amid renewed volatility in the oil markets.
The large-cap S&P 500 Index fell 0.2% to close at 2,373.47. The index opened flat and posted minor gains before spending most of the day in negative territory.
Seven of 11 sectors finished in the red, with financial shares shouldering the biggest burden of the loss. The sector fell 0.9% on Monday.
Energy stocks slipped 0.1% as oil prices ran into renewed volatility on concerns of excess supply in the market. Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes reported Friday that the active rig count for U.S. drillers rose by 14 to a total of 631 in the latest week. That was the ninth consecutive gain and highest level since September 2015.
Active rigs are a proxy for U.S. crude output and shale-industry investment.
Utilities shares declined 0.7% on Monday. Telecommunications services ended 0.4% lower.
Materials stocks were the biggest gainers, rising 0.4% as a sector.
Equities struggled for gains at the start of the trading week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average pared losses to finish flat at 20,905.86. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index also ended flat at 5,901.33.
In economic data, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) improved to +0.34 in February from -0.02 in January, with all four sub-indexes recoding gains. The index’s three-month moving average reached +0.25, the highest since December 2014.
The monthly CFNAI tracks changes in overall activity in the U.S. economy.
Later in the week, the Commerce Department will report on February durable goods orders, a proxy for manufacturing demand. Data on housing starts and building permits will also make headlines.