NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages finished modestly lower Monday with sentiment soured by frustration with the efforts of European leaders to address the region's debt crisis.
Apple (AAPL - Get Report) was also an uncharacteristically weak spot with the stock falling back below $700 as Wall Street was unimpressed with news the company sold more than 5 million iPhone 5s over the weekend.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 21 points, or 0.15%, to close at 13,559. The blue-chip index is still up roughly 11% so far in 2012.
Breadth was negative with decliners outpacing advancers, 18 to 11 with McDonald's (MCD) finishing flat. The biggest percentage decliners in the Dow were Intel (INTC), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Microsoft (MFST).Blue-chip gainers included AT&T (T), 3M (MMM) Pfizer (PFE), JPMorgan (JPM) and Merck (MRK). Shares of health insurance company UnitedHealth (UNH) slipped in its first day of trading as part the Dow after replacing Kraft Foods ( KFT ), which is splitting into two entities. The S&P 500 fell more than 3 points, or 0.22%, to settle at 1457, while the Nasdaq dropped more than 19 points, or 0.60%, to close at 3161. Sales of the iPhone 5 may be running better than the iPhone 4S, but Apple's weekend tally was apparently below some Wall Street estimates. The news prompted a 1.3% drop in Apple shares on heavier than normal volume. The weakest sectors in the broad market were technology, basic materials and consumer cyclicals. Transportation and utilities were the only areas of strength. Volume totaled 2.99 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.70 billion on the Nasdaq. "Many of the short-term momentum indicators are still in 'overbought territory' -- meaning further corrective action is likely in the weeks ahead," said Paul Nolte, managing director at Dearborn Partners. "This would be in line with a normal 'bad' October; however the Fed actions should keep any correction relatively mild. This scenario fits very neatly into a seasonally weak period and sets up for a nice year-end rally," he continued. The market mood was soured Monday by reports that Germany and France were clashing on the timeline for introducing a banking union with German Chancellor Angela Merkel wanting to move at a much more measured pace and French President Francois Hollande urging quicker action. Meanwhile, speculation arose that Greece's budget shortfall was a lot greater than previously expected, though the Greek Ministry of Finance refuted the reports. The nervous atmosphere was also being fed by data showing that the German Ifo index of business confidence unexpectedly declined this month, and a CBB International report indicating that optimism among Chinese manufacturers and retailers about sales has dimmed compared with three months ago.