Volatile crude oil prices kept stocks under pressure Monday, leaving the major indexes with a slight loss. Questions over economic growth and the upcoming election weakened the U.S. dollar and contributed to investors' uncertainty.
The dollar slid to an eight-month low early Monday as foreign investors worried that the tight presidential race and high oil prices could further hurt the U.S. economy. Overseas stock markets fell sharply, and Wall Street extended its slide from last week.
While oil prices, which topped $55 per barrel for the first time last week, managed to fall somewhat Monday, many analysts said they are still too high and will start to weigh heavily on the economy should they remain above $50.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 7.82, or 0.1 percent, to 9749.99, setting a fresh year-to-date low in its lowest close since Nov. 24. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index slipped 0.94, or 0.1 percent, to 1094.80. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 1.10, or 0.1 percent, to 1914.04.
A strong report on home sales helped minimize the losses. The National Association of Realtors said home sales rose 3.1 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.75 million units, the third-highest showing ever, reversing two months of declines.
Telecommunications company BellSouth saw profit fall 14.6 percent in the third quarter on flat revenue, and the company missed Wall Street profit forecasts. BellSouth slipped 13 cents, to $26.42.
Consumer products maker Kimberly-Clark fell $4.03, to $59.03, after it missed analysts' estimates by a penny per share, despite a 5 percent rise in profits.
Kellogg had better news, as the cereal and snack producer beat Wall Street expectations by 4 cents per share in the latest quarter and increased its profit forecasts for the rest of the year. Kellogg rose 74 cents, to $43.15.
News of a buyout sent International Steel Group skyrocketing $5.57, or 18.8 percent, to $35.25. A privately owned Dutch steelmaker, LNM Group, said it would buy International Steel for about $4.5 billion in cash and stock.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 0.42, to 6520.90; the American Stock Exchange index rose 1.67, to 1308.00; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 3.89, to 571.67.
* Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 10 to 9 on the NYSE, where trading volume fell to 1.38 billion shares, from 1.47 billion on Friday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, advancers outnumbered decliners by 6 to 5 and volume totaled 1.58 billion, down from 1.72 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note was unchanged, and its yield remained at 3.97 percent.
* The dollar fell against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 106.73 yen, down from 107.26 late Friday, and a euro bought $1.2804, up from $1.2648.
* Light, sweet crude oil for December delivery settled at $54.54, down 63 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery rose to $429.00 a troy ounce, from $424.60 on Friday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.