Very quietly, and with only modest success, traders resumed the hunt for the elusive year-end rally on Monday. But major averages traded in tight intraday ranges as a holiday atmosphere descended on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.2% to 8493.29 after trading as high as 8554.04 and as low as 8462.64. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% to 897.38 vs. its intraday high of 902.43 and low of 892.26. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.4% to 1381.70, ending near its intraday high of 1384.30. About 1.1 billion shares traded on the Big Board, down from 1.8 billion on Friday and vs. the annual daily average of 1.45 billion. Trading activity is expected to diminish further as the week progresses; U.S. financial markets close early Tuesday in anticipation of Wednesday's Christmas Day observance. Monday's action suggests Friday's high-volume gains were more the result of so-called quadruple witching expiration of options and futures, rather than the onset of the much-anticipated "Santa Claus rally." Hopes for such a move go beyond mere confirmation of traditional seasonal patterns, or even traders' short-term positioning. In addition, another old Wall Street saying has been on the minds (if not lips) of many participants: "If Santa Claus should fail to call, the bears may come to Broad and Wall." Or, in this case, will stay there. "Santa Claus tends to come to Wall Street nearly every year, bringing a short, sweet and respectable rally within the last five trading days of the year and the first two in January," according to The Stock Traders' Almanac. But "Santa's failure to show tends to precede bear markets, or times stocks could be purchased later in the year at much lower prices." Jeffrey Saut, chief equity strategist at Raymond James, cited expectations for year-end strength (and implications of its failure) in recommending traders buy indices at the open on Dec. 16.