NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Profit-taking among chipmakers and small-caps kept the tech-heavy Nasdaq
The S&P 500
"Today is very much a trading day," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist with Prudential Financial. "You can see at work the high-frequency trading, the algorithms at work. To get a real sense of the market, you're going to have to wait as the earnings come in ... When a market doesn't have much to go on (as today), it's a market that tends to drift and in essence can go in either direction."
Watch the video below for a closer look at how U.S. markets ended the trading day Monday:
Semiconductor stocks were among the worst-performers on the Nasdaq with Micron Technology (MU) , SanDisk (SNDK) and Altera (ALTR) falling after Samsung announced its $14.7 billion investment in a new chip factory in South Korea. Micron dropped 3.9%, SanDisk shed 2.7% and Altera fell 1.9%.
Solar stocks, often susceptible to downswings in the market, tumbled on heavy volume. Windstream Holdings (WIN) slid 3%, Yingli Green Energy (YGE) dropped 1.6%, Trina Solar (TSL) fell 3.9%, and ReneSola (SOL) tripped 5.6%.
The S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Index was one of the worst-performing sectors, dragged on by H&R Block's (HRB) 5.5% drop. Sunday night, the tax preparation company said its deal to sell its banking arm to BofI Federal Bank would not receive regulatory approval until after the 2015 tax season.
"We [see] 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, of the mood of the market. "Even though that buy-the-dip mentality has been a proven strategy, we're not seeing that mentality in the options market."
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX.X) climbed 5.3% to 15.32, after a 6% drop since the beginning of the month.
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was dominating business headlines Monday. The tech company confirmed plans it will separate its personal computer segment from its enterprise-geared business. Shares were up 4.7%.
Facebook (FB) finalized its acquisition of messaging application WhatsApp, closing at a higher-than-expected $22 billion after a portion was paid for in shares which have appreciated in value over the past months. Since the deal was announced in February, the social network's shares have climbed nearly 24%.
Medical supplies companies Becton Dickinson (BDX) 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 7.9%. CareFusion popped 22.9%, the best-performing stock on the S&P 500.
Liberty Ventures (LVNTA) , one of John Malone's many spinoffs, announced that it would receive $1 billion in cash after its board approved splitting partner company Liberty Interactive's (LINTA) cable shopping and digital commerce businesses. Liberty Interactive shares were up 6.4%, while Liberty Ventures sank 11.6%.
Wall Street-listed Brazilian stocks remained some of the best performers 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) spiked 6.3%, while Rio-based oiler Petrobas (PBR) jumped 13.1%, Itau Unibanco (ITUB) climbed 6.5% and steelmaker Vale (VALE) added 2.6%.
To the week ahead, Wednesday will be key with investors keen to parse through the yet-to-be-released FOMC's minutes from its mid-September policy meeting, while Alcoa's (AA) third-quarter report after the bell will herald the unofficial kickoff of earnings season.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.