Crude oil put a stop to Wall Street's holiday cheer on Monday as a year-long commodity sell-off appeared determined to hang around for 2015's final days.
The blame was again on China which suffered another monthly decline in profits at its industrial companies. The sixth straight month of declines heightened concern over the health of the world's second-largest economy. The Shanghai Composite tumbled 2.6%, its biggest one-day decline since late November.
Crude oil prices were under pressure over fears about international demand triggered by the Chinese weakness. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 3.4% to $36.81 a barrel. The fresh rout in crude oil prices pressured the energy sector including major oilers Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report) and Chevron (CVX - Get Report) which slumped. The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE - Get Report) fell 2.1%.
"Oil has really pulled the market down throughout the year," Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director of The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank, told TheStreet. "There's just a lot of concerns about global growth spearheaded by China so I think those factors created a very uncertain environment for investors."
A selloff in energy pulled benchmark indexes lower to begin the final week of the year. The S&P 500 (SPY - Get Report) fell 0.22%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA - Get Report) declined 0.13%, and the Nasdaq (QQQ - Get Report) slipped 0.15%.
Market activity was also volatile in low-volume trading during the holiday season. The number of shares traded on the S&P 500 reached 222 million, a fraction of its three-month daily average of nearly 700 million.
Apple (AAPL - Get Report) has asked Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) to pay $180 million in damages from a recently settled patent case. Samsung has already agreed to pay $548 million for infringing upon Apple's smartphone patents.
General Electric (GE - Get Report) was slightly lower after winning a contract in China to provide half the generation capacity of a hydropower project. GE's contract is part of a 100 billion yuan project ($15.5 billion) on the Jinsha River.
Disney's (DIS - Get Report) Star Wars: The Force Awakens reached the billion-dollar mark at the global box office on Sunday. The milestone made it the fastest-grossing film in history, only 12 days after its debut. The movie has yet to open in China, the world's second-largest movie market. Jurassic World previously held the record.
FedEx (FDX - Get Report) drew ire from customers after delays made a number of deliveries late for Christmas. The delivery service has contended with severe weather interruptions, particularly at its major air hub in Memphis. FedEx ran extra shifts on Christmas Day to clear the delivery backlog. Shares were down 0.8%.
Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) announced a record-breaking holiday for its Prime delivery service, which also provides video and other perks to members. The tech giant announced that more than 3 million people joined Prime in the third week of December, while 200 million items were delivered to subscribers.
Pep Boys (PBY) has agreed to a $947 million bid from Bridgestone after contemplating an offer from activist investor Carl Icahn. The auto shop chain said the offer from Icahn Enterprises (IEP - Get Report) was no longer a "superior proposal." Bridgestone will pay $17 a share.