NEW YORK, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks were little changed Monday after light trading, as investors were reluctant to take fresh positions before the closely watched U.S. nonfarm payroll report for September.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.45 points, or 0.05 percent, to 15,392.20 points. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index edged up 0.16 point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,744.66 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 5.77 points, or 0.15 percent, to 3,920.05 points.
The S&P 500 refreshed an all-time new high for the third consecutive session after U.S. Congress struck a last-minute deal to reopen the U.S. government and raise the debt ceiling last week. But investors became a little cautious ahead of release of the September jobs report due on Tuesday. The jobs report was delayed due to the government shutdown.
Traders will be trying to seek some clues from the report since the U.S. Federal Reserve has emphasized many times that the timing of tapering of its stimulus policy would depend on economic data.
"Besides the delay in reporting, the September employment data should not be affected by the shutdown. The October and November employment data were likely impacted," said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, in a note last Friday.
On the economic front, U.S. existing-home sales dropped 1.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.29 million units in September, after hitting the highest level in nearly four years, according to the National Association of Realtors.
"An as-expected decline in existing home sales in September reflects consumers' and investors' reaction to increased interest rates and a cooling market," Jay Morelock, an economist at FTN Financial, said Monday.
According to Thomson Reuters data, some 28 percent of S&P 500 components will report earnings this week. Fast food chain giant McDonald's beat Wall Street forecasts on its earnings in the third quarter by a penny but expected its sales to be unchanged. Its shares dipped 0.64 percent to 94.59 U.S. dollars apiece.
In corporate news, JPMorgan shares inched down 0.06 percent to 54.27 dollars after the banking giant reportedly reached a tentative agreement to pay a record fine of 13 billion U.S. dollars to settle probes into its residential mortgage-backed securities.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, increased 0.92 percent to end at 13.16.
In other markets, oil prices moved down Monday as U.S. crude inventories increased to the highest level in three months.
Light, sweet crude for November delivery shed 1.59 dollars to settle at 99.22 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for December delivery fell 30 cents to close at 109.64 dollars a barrel.
Gold future for December delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange advanced 1.2 dollars to settle at 1, 315.8 dollars per ounce Monday as traders prepared for a busy week of earnings and economic data.
The U.S. dollar recovered against most major currencies Monday, but it still traded at relatively low levels as the Fed is expected to delay tapering its monetary stimulus.
In late New York trading, the euro slightly fell to 1.3677 dollars from 1.3679 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound decreased to 1.6145 dollars from 1.6160 dollars.