NEW YORK, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday, following a relatively weak week, amid worries about the debt-ridden euro area and the so-called sequester that would trigger automatic spending cuts for the United States starting from March.
The political and financial situation in the euro area once again became market focus after having stabilized last month.
Investors were eyeing a meeting of finance ministers from eurozone countries in Brussels to discuss Greece's progress in its rescue program, as well as a bailout plan for Cyprus.
Another headwind for the equity market is the sequester that would trigger automatic federal spending cuts totaling 85 billion U.S. dollars if the Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement to avoid it.
Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen said this afternoon that the Fed is still aggressively stimulating an anemic U.S. economic recovery that has failed to bring rapid progress on employment.
Goldman Sachs has grown cautious on global equities in the near term, cutting its recommendation to neutral from overweight on a three-month basis.
No important economic data for the United States were scheduled and few large companies reported earnings on Monday.
Google shares slipped 0.38 percent to 782.42 dollars after the giant search engine said in a filing its former chief executive Eric Schmidt was selling roughly 42 percent of his Google stake.
Apple shares rose 1.04 percent to 479.96 dollars, as the tech giant is reportedly testing a watch-like device which would perform some functions of a smartphone.
Shares of Loews Corp. fell 0.78 percent to 43.51 dollars after the insurance company said it lost 32 million dollars in its fourth quarter, hurt by insurance losses from Superstorm Sandy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 21.73 points, or 0.16 percent, to 13,971.24. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index inched down 0.92 points, or 0.06 percent, to 1,517.01. The Nasdaq Composite index gave up 1.87 points, or 0.06 percent, to 3,192.00.
For the previous week, the S&P 500 gained 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.5 percent, both notching a six-week gaining streak. However, the Dow lost 0.1 percent.
Coca-Cola, the world's biggest beverage company, is scheduled to announce fourth-quarter earnings before Tuesday's opening bell.
The U.S. dollar advanced against most of major currencies but weakened against the euro after a European Central Bank official said Monday the euro is not overvalued.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery gained 1.37 percent to settle at 97.03 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday after a blizzard hit the northeast of the country.
But Brent crude for March delivery dropped and last traded close to 118 dollars a barrel.
Gold future for April delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 1.1 percent to settle at 1,649.1 dollars per ounce, dragged down by technical selling.