NEW YORK, July 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks cut earlier losses Monday to kick off a peak corporate earnings season week, as investors are keeping an eye on the latest developments in Ukraine and Gaza.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 48.45 points, or 0.28 percent, to 17,051.73. The S&P 500 dropped 4.59 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,973.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 7.44 points, or 0.17 percent, to 4,424.70.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has "direct responsibility" of compelling separatists to cooperate with international investigation into the crash of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in Ukraine last week, which killed all 298 people on board.
Adding woes to the market, the Israeli military said it killed on Monday morning at least ten Gaza militants who were trying to infiltrate the country through two tunnels, as death toll of the two-week fighting exceeds 500.
Meanwhile, U.S. investors are expected to see a very busy week on corporate earnings calendar, with 146 S&P 500 companies scheduled to post earnings results this week.
Analysts believed that whether the U.S. equity market could maintain its upward trend after having staging record runs recently would largely depend on how the U.S. firms fared in the past quarter.
Shortly after the closing bell, Netflix, an on-line streaming media provider, delivered mixed earnings results, with its profit in the second quarter of the year missing market consensus and revenues exceeding analyst forecast.
Investors are also looking to tech giant Apple which is slated to release its closely-watched quarterly earnings after Tuesday's closing bell.
Wall Street had showed impressive resilience last week, eking out weekly gains amid geopolitical unrest in Ukraine and the Middle East.
The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street's fear gauge, rallied 5.89 percent to end at 12.77 on Monday.
In other markets, crude prices gained Monday as worries were raised that political tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East may disrupt oil supply.
Light, sweet crude for August delivery moved up 1.46 dollars to settle at 104.59 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for September delivery gained 44 cents to close at 107.68 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange advanced on Monday as investors remained cautious of risky assets amid the geopolitical turmoil, with the most active gold contract for August delivery up 4.5 dollars, or 0.34 percent, to 1,313.9 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar strengthened moderately against major currencies Monday.
In late New York trading, the euro fell to 1.3523 dollars from 1.3526 dollars in the previous session, while the dollar bought 101.38 Japanese yen, higher than 101.37 yen of the previous session.