Earnings season has arrived, but investors can't seem to shake off last week's funk.
China and oil continued to torment markets on Monday, extending what has been a brutal start to the year.
After another up and down day, stocks finally closed mixed.
The S&P 500 inched up 0.8%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.32% and the Nasdaq slid 0.12%.
Markets closed out last week with the worst start to a year in history. The S&P 500 has fallen 6.7% so far this year.
Alcoa (AA - Get Report) unofficially kicked off earnings season after the bell with better-than-expected earnings on low estimates. Profit fell 88%, while revenue slid 18%, though investors had expected much worse as the aluminum company faces slumping commodity prices.
Overall, analysts largely expect a solid performance from S&P 500 companies during this earnings season.
Excluding energy, fourth-quarter earnings are expected to grow 1.4%. Revenue is forecast to fall 3.2%, both a result of weaker oil prices and a stronger U.S. dollar cutting into internationally-made profits.
"Fourth-quarter earnings weren't too bad, and the fundamentals are much stronger than the market performance," Scotty George, chief investment strategist at Alexander Capital, told TheStreet.
Despite continued worries about China and oil, analysts don't think there will be all that many earnings surprises."We may get some concerning outlooks going forward and guidance from some of the bigger multinational players or those that are correlated to energy prices," Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh Asset Management told TheStreet. "But, I don't think they'll be that dramatically different from some of the guidance we got coming out of the third-quarter earnings season."
It was a torturous day for commodity traders as crude oil plummeted to its lowest settlement since December 2003. West Texas Intermediate plummeted 5.3% to $31.41 a barrel, making Morgan Stanley's forecast earlier in the day of oil prices in the $20s look even more likely.
There were more sharp losses for Chinese markets to start the new week as investors worried officials had lost control of the world's second-largest economy. The Shanghai Composite fell more than 10% last week after the People's Bank of China continued to devalue the yuan in an attempt to stabilize a weakening manufacturing sector.
"For now, we expect equity markets will be dominated by issues in China, and sentiment may remain bearish until investors believe policymakers will be able to stabilize economic and financial conditions," said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management.
Stocks closed out last week with a big loss, overpowering a blockbuster jobs report. The selling continued into Friday's close and sent the S&P 500 skidding 5.5% for the week, its worst start to a new year ever.
There were a few companies that managed to buck the downward trend on Monday. Macy's (M - Get Report) shares spiked after activist investor Starboard encouraged the retailer to explore a real estate deal. The firm estimates Macy's real estate holdings, including the iconic Herald Square location, are worth $21 billion.
Apple (AAPL - Get Report) jumped 1% after Mizuho Securities upgraded the stock to buy. The firm said the company has "meaningful" upside potential, particularly after a recent selloff triggered by fears over weaker demand for iPhones.
Disney's (DIS - Get Report) Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued to break new records after logging the best Saturday opening day in history in China. The film generated $33 million in its opening day and analysts expect a total gross between $200 million and $330 million by the end of its run.