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Erratic Day for Wall Street

The major averages endure a volatile session and close mixed.

Updated from 4:10 p.m. EST

Stocks endured a seesaw session Monday before closing with blue chips to the upside and tech stocks again in the red.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

traded in a range of 148 points and settled up 27.31 points, or 0.21%, at 12,827.49.


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was the weakest component, falling 5.1%.

Fellow blue chip index the

S&P 500

also fluctuated around the unchanged mark but ultimately rose 4.55 points, or 0.32%, to 1416.18.

On the downside, the

Nasdaq Composite

fell 5.19 points, or 0.21%, at 2499.49, extending its losing streak to seven sessions. Declines in

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, and


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weighed on the tech-heavy index.

A sharp pullback from all-time highs in crude prices helped rouse some buyers. After hitting a record $100.09 a barrel Thursday, crude plummeted $2.82 to close at $95.09 a barrel. Earlier, oil futures climbed on word of a standoff between U.S. Navy ships and Iranian vessels in the Strait of Hormuz during the weekend.

Energy stocks bore the brunt of oil's decline, as the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index lost 1.6% and the Amex Oil Index eased 0.4%. Brokers and homebuilders also lost ground.

Among advancers, the Philadelphia Utility Sector Index climbed 2.7%, and the Dow Jones Transportation Average rose 0.5%.

Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist with Spencer Clarke LLC, said that market technicals have been deteriorating over the recent weeks, painting an unattractive picture over the near term.

"One positive was the sharp decline in oil which, if sustained, would be a small glimmer of hope," said Sheldon. "There's a lot to dislike about this market. Today's defensive trading and volatility reflect continued investor worries of a recession and a weakening economy."

Volume was heavy to start the week. About 4.13 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

, with advancers topping decliners by a 9-to-8 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq reached 2.51 billion shares, as losers edged winners 8 to 7.

U.S. Treasury prices were on the rise. The 10-year note added 9/32 in price, yielding 3.84%. The 30-year bond rose 18/32 in price, yielding 4.34%. The dollar, meanwhile, was strengthening against the world's major currencies.

On Friday, the major averages closed a dismal week on a sour note following a weaker-than-expected report on job growth. The Dow sank 256.54 points, or 1.96%, to 12,800.18, and the S&P 500 lost 35.53 points, or 2.46%, at 1411.63. The Nasdaq plunged 98.03 points, or 3.77%, at 2504.65.

For the week, the indices finished with their worst losses in several months. The Dow declined by 4.2%, and the S&P 500 ended down 4.5%. The Nasdaq was the worst performer, notching a decline of 6.4%.

"Since recent economic numbers have been terrible, we now believe we're a lot closer to a recession than we initially thought," said Paul Nolte, director of investments with Hinsdale Associates. "We're just now starting to price a recession in. The concern over the economy and the weakness we're seeing is the biggest issue facing us."

Later this week, traders will have to deal with several economic reports, monthly same-store sales results from retailers and the start of earnings with Alcoa's numbers due Wednesday.

Additionally, a handful of

Federal Reserve

members will deliver speeches throughout the week. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will offer his take on financial markets and monetary policy on Thursday in Washington, and Fed Governor Fred Mishkin will speak Friday on financial disruptions and risk management in New York.

"The market will be paying very close attention to what the Fed members say, in hopes of seeing some smoothing of recession fears," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist with Avalon Partners.

Several negative ratings changes were balancing out the decline in oil. UBS downgraded both


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Network Appliance

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to neutral from buy, citing concerns over slower spending in 2008. IBM lost 0.8%, and Network Appliance dropped 6.1%.

Elsewhere, Bear Stearns lowered its rating for electronics retailer

Best Buy

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to underperform from outperform, and RBC Capital Markets downgraded



to sector perform from outperform. Shares closed down 22 cents, or 0.5%, at $47.26.

On the positive side, JPMorgan Chase upped its rating for retailer

Bed Bath & Beyond

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to neutral from underweight, after shares shed 4.4% in the prior session following weak fiscal fourth-quarter guidance. The stock gained 18 cents, or 0.7%, to $26.37.

Markets abroad were mostly lower. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 shed 1.3%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was lower by 1.2%. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 fell 0.2%, while Germany's Xetra Dax tacked on 0.1%.