NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stocks finished on a mixed note Monday as eurozone debt concerns weighed on sentiment ahead of

Alcoa's

(AA) - Get Report

postclose quarterly report, in which it

beat estimates

.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

shed 37 points, or 0.3%, to close at 11,637, falling for a third straight session. The

S&P 500

dipped 2 points, or 0.1%, to settle at 1,270, while the

Nasdaq Composite

was the exception, rising 4 points, or 0.2% to 2,708.

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

was the biggest laggard, shedding 2% ahead of an expected announcement from

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

Tuesday that it will begin selling the iPhone by the end of the month.

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

were other laggards.

Overall breadth was negative, with 19 of the Dow's 30 components in decline.

3M

(MMM) - Get Report

,

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

Travelers

(TRV) - Get Report

were among the biggest percentage gainers within the Dow.

Alcoa, which also managed a positive finish, said after the bell that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit grew to 21 cents per share on an adjusted basis on revenue of $5.65 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of 20 cents a share for the fourth quarter on revenue of $5.68 billion.

As the first Dow component to issue its report each quarter, Alcoa's results are typically viewed as the official start of earnings season. Following their 5%-plus run-up in December, stocks seem to have already priced in significant earnings growth, so it may difficult for companies to impress already bullish analysts on the upside.

"Companies will surprise by a couple of percentage points," said Jeff Kleintop of LPL Financial. "Consensus is for 30% year on year, which is a high hurdle. ... I don't think profit guidance is going to be up given productivity gains have slowed and companies are not hiring."

Stocks began Monday's session on a weak note as concerns about Europe's debt problems returned. Yields on Portuguese, Belgian and Spanish bonds jumped amid

upcoming eurozone bond auctions and concerns that Portugal may be the next country to seek European Union bailout funds. London's FTSE lost 0.5%, and the DAX in Frankfurt finished 1.3% lower.

Deals also snapped back into focus Monday. Shares of DuPont were under pressure following news that it

agreed to buy Danish food ingredients company

Danisco

for $5.8 billion in cash and the assumption of $500 million Danisco debt. DuPont expects the purchase to close early in the second quarter and be accretive to cash and earnings in 2012. DuPont's stock closed down 1.5% to $49.03.

The utilities sector was seeing the worst performance of the session weighed down by shares of

Duke Energy

(DUK) - Get Report

and

Progress Energy

(PGN)

, which fell on news that they

will merge in a stock-for-stock transaction resulting in an energy company with a market capitalization of $37 billion. Duke's stock was down 1.1% to $17.58, and Progress shares were down by 1.6% at $43.99.

Financials also were trading lower as a coalition of large public pension funds demanded that boards of directors at

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

,

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

,

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

and

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

perform independent examinations of mortgage and disclosure practices and report their findings in their 2011 proxy statements.

Shares of

Apollo

(APOL)

soared in aftermarket trading after it beat earnings expectations. The for-profit education company reported a profit of $1.61 per share against estimates of $1.25 per share.

Earlier in the day, shares of Apollo had been under pressure along with other education stocks after

Strayer Education

(STRA) - Get Report

warned of slower student enrollment growth

. Shares of Strayer tumbled 23% to $118.60.

Shares of rivals including

DeVry

(DV)

and

Washington Post

(WPO)

were also down by 10% and 6%, respectively.

Shares of

Nvidia

(NVDA) - Get Report

were gaining 3.8% to $21.40 in aftermarket trading after

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

said it has entered into a long-term patent licensing agreement with the company and will pay it $1.5 billion over the next five years to resolve a patent dispute between the two companies.

Playboy

(PLA)

accepted Hugh Hefner's offer to take the company private for $6.15 a share. Its stock was up 17% at $6.09.

Shares of

Smith & Nephew

(SNN) - Get Report

were up 6.8% to $54.28 on news that the

London-based medical devices maker received a takeover bid last month from

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

. J&J's stock was off by 0.7% at $62.13.

BP's

(BP) - Get Report

stock was down 0.1% at $46.03 after a

pipeline leak forced the company to shut down 95% of production from North America's biggest field.

Shares of

Sara Lee

(SLE)

were up 4.5% to $18.21 on reports that Brazilian meat company

JBS SA

was weighing a revised bid for the

U.S. branded food products company, according to

Bloomberg

. Last month, Sara Lee rejected a buyout offer from JBS.

Shares of

Radio Shack

(RSH)

plunged 5% to $ 17.47 on a downgrade from FBR Capital and Credit Suisse analysts to market perform, citing challenges to its mobile-phone market share if Verizon begins selling the iPhone.

In commodity markets, the February crude oil contract rose $1.22 to settle at $89.25 a barrel, following the oil pipeline shutdown. The February gold contract rose by $5 to trade at $1,373.90 an ounce.

The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.3%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 10/32, lowering the yield to 3.287%.

.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.7% and

China's Shanghai Composite lost 1.7% as December exports in China rose by a less-than-expected 17.9% after jumping 34.9% in November.

--Written by Melinda Peer and Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.