Stock prices were little changed as investors refrained from building major new positions on the eve of the Federal Reserve's meeting on interest rates. The Nasdaq snapped its latest streak of records, closing with a slim loss.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 8.57 points to close at 10,760.75.
Broader indicators were also slightly lower. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 1.67, to 1394.39, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 1.61, to 3219.54, its first loss since Nov. 9.
Traders marked a quiet session as many investors appeared willing to wait for the outcome of the Fed's Open Market Committee meeting on Tuesday. Economists are divided over whether the Fed will raise interest rates for the third time this year. The Fed raised rates in June and August in a bid to keep inflation from accelerating.
"The two hikes that we've had so far may have done the trick," said Philip S. Dow, director of equity strategy at Dain Rauscher Wessels in Minneapolis. Dow expected the Fed to leave rates unchanged.
In recent weeks, government reports have suggested the economy is continuing to grow without inflation. On Friday, stocks soared after a report showed that worker productivity jumped in the third quarter while growth in labor costs moderated.
A.C. Moore, chief investment strategist for Dunvegan Associates in Santa Barbara, Calif., said that while the odds of a rate increase have slipped, the final decision remains "a close call."
"Most of the recent economic releases point to low inflationary pressures at the final price stage, allowing the Fed some wiggle room," he said.
In a speech to the American Council on Life Insurance this morning, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan confined his remarks to the financial-industry modernization laws enacted Friday. He made no mention about the performance of the overall economy.
Qualcomm, which has helped drive the Nasdaq to 10 new records in the past 12 sessions, fell 10, to 368, today as investors locked in profits. The company, a large developer of wireless telephone technology, has surged in recent sessions, helped along by a J.P. Morgan report Friday that said shares could hit 460 within a year.
Internet companies were mostly higher. Yahoo rose 8-1/16, to 205, and GoTo.com rose 17-25/32, to 109, after a judge ruled that Disney must stop using the logo for its similarly named Go.com Internet sites.
Oak Industries soared 19, to 68 3/4, on the New York Stock Exchange after Corning agreed to acquire it for $1.8 billion. Oak makes devices that are used as timing references in wireless, wire-line and fiber-optic applications.
As companies use technology to improve productivity and do more and more business over the Internet, high-tech stocks will continue to drive the market, Dow said.
"That's where the innovation is," he said. "It's no longer a mystery how to make money in the market. You have to own the right stocks, and that means technology."
The largest of all technology stocks, Microsoft, was the Dow's biggest decliner today, losing 2-3/16, to 87. Traders cited an article in Barron's this weekend that suggested the company's value would plummet if antitrust enforcers broke it up into diverse businesses.
In after-hours trading, Bloomberg News reported, Lycos rose 2 1/8, to 62, after the Internet search service said revenue more than doubled in the fiscal first quarter. The company said it increased revenue from electronic commerce and attracted more people to its network of Web sites, though its quarterly loss widened on increased marketing and acquisition costs. The stock rose 15/16, to 59 7/8, in regular trading.