Before Monday's opening bell, the New York Federal Reserve said the Empire State manufacturing index dropped to -10.4 in September, compared with the read of -5.9 in August and consensus of -3, showing a quickening of contraction in the state's manufacturing sector.

The index for number of employees declined noticeably but remained a touch above zero at 4.3, suggesting a slower pace of hiring activity than in recent months.

Also weighing on sentiment Monday was Citigroup joining other banks in slashing its full-year growth forecast for China.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng index settled up 0.14%. The Tokyo Stock Exchange was closed for a public holiday.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was caught a bounce, rising 10/32 to dilute the yield to 1.837%. The greenback was rose 0.17%, according to the dollar index.

October crude oil futures settled down $2.38 to $96.62 a barrel and December gold futures were down $2.10 to settle at $1770.60 an ounce.

In corporate news, activist investment fund Starboard Value LP disclosed Monday it has taken a 13.3% stake in Office Depot ( ODP). The stake makes Starboard the largest shareholder in Office Depot. Shares of Office Depot popped 5.3%.

Early Monday, Apple said pre-orders for the iPhone 5 topped 2 million in the first 24 hours. The stock gained 1.2% in the session, then crested above $700 in Monday's after-hours session.

Shares of General Motors ( GM) lost 1.4% following a report that the Treasury Department is resisting the company's push to sell the government's entire stake in the automaker, The Wall Street Journal reported.

--Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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