NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. markets trimmed earlier gains Monday as investors grew skittish despite last week's strong U.S. labor data.  

The S&P 500 (^GSPC)  rose 0.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI)  remained 0.2% higher. The Nasdaq (^IXIC) slipped 0.2% and the small-cap index the Russell 2000 (^RUT) shed 0.27%. 

Watch the video below for a closer look at how U.S. markets started the trading day Monday:

"We saw a lot of fear being generated consistent with the amount of fear we've seen in past pullbacks," said Todd Salamone, senior vice president of research at Schaeffer's, in a phone interview. "Even though that buy-the-dip mentality has been a proven strategy, we're not seeing that mentality in the options market."

Optimism over U.S. strength continued to push global markets higher, even after weak data out from Europe. German industrial orders posted a significantly sharper drop than forecast, down 5.7% from August compared to an anticipated 2.5% fall. That marks the sharpest decline since 2009.

Softness in certain pockets of Europe, particularly compared to growth stateside, has investors hoping the European Central Bank could implement its own version of the Federal Reserve's stimulus program. The possibility was enough to inspire a rally among European markets. Germany's DAX spiked 0.41% while France's CAC 40 climbed 0.57%.

Wall Street-listed Brazilian stocks are spiking after support for conservative, pro-business candidate Aecio Neves surged in the first round of Brazil's elections. Neves, who swept 34% of votes from a previous pre-election poll of 26%, failed to unseat incumbent President Dilma Rousseff but will have another chance to do so in the second round of voting on Oct. 26. Exchange-traded fund iShares MSCI Brazil Index(EWZ) - Get Report spiked 6.3%, while Rio-based oiler Petrobas(PBR) - Get Report jumped 11.8%, Itau Unibanco(ITUB) - Get Report climbed 8% and steelmaker Vale(VALE) - Get Report added 2.7%.

After 12 consecutive weeks of gains, the U.S. dollar paused on Monday morning as a fortified job market raised prospects the Fed could increase interest rates by mid-2015. The euro was up 0.27% in relation to the dollar, trading at $1.25 to 1 euro.

In economic data, U.S. consumer spending fell to $87 per day in September from an average $94 per day over the previous two months, according to the Gallup U.S. Consumer Spending Measure. Though sequentially lower, the measure came in higher than $84 in September 2013 and is an improvement on the $60 to $70 range seen from 2009 to 2012.

Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) - Get Report is dominating business headlines Monday. The tech company confirmed plans it will separate its personal computer segment from its enterprise-geared business. Shares were up 4.8.

Walt Disney(DIS) - Get Report and Time Warner (TWX)  confirmed reports they had secured nine-year rights deals with the National Basketball Association for broadcast of live regular-season games. Disney's sports property, ESPN, will also host an online streaming service for live games. Disney rose 0.14%, contributing to a nearly 2% gain on Friday on news CEO Bob Iger had extended his contract through to 2018. 

In M&A news, medical supplies companies Becton Dickinson (BDX) - Get Report  and CareFusion (CFN)  were surging after the former agreed to buy the latter in a cash-and-stock deal worth $12 billon. Becton Dickinson was up 7%. CareFusion popped 23.2%, the best-performing stock on the S&P 500.

RadioShack (RSH)  was the benefactor of an $120 million investment from shareholdersStandard General and Litespeed Management, a capital infusion that will help sustain operations through the holiday-shopping season. Investors are bearish despite the last-ditch effort to save the retailer. Shares were down 9.2%.

While Alcoa(AA) - Get Report  heralds the unofficial kickoff of earnings season on Wednesday, The Container Store(TCS) - Get Report  will showcase its most recent quarter with an earnings report out after Monday's closing bell.

--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.