Stocks continued to hold lower in afternoon trading, putting four days of gains for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average in jeopardy, while oil prices rose on hopes an agreement to cut output could be reached at an OPEC meeting in Vienna on Wednesday.
The S&P 500 fell 0.29%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.16% and the Nasdaq tumbled 0.36%.
TheStreet's Jim Cramer said he prefers three or four market down days because it allows investors to catch their breath, while "new money comes in and then the stocks recharge and go higher."
West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained 1.9% Monday at $46.95 a barrel after trading in and out of positive territory for much of the morning.
"The price of oil has certainly stabilized," Stephen Guilfoyle, president of Sarge986 said, highlighting that since OPEC been talking about a production deal the price of oil has stayed around $40 beginning in late February.
Saudi Arabia suggested over the weekend that OPEC didn't need to reduce output to rebalance the oil market as increasing demand in 2017 would serve to drain a supply glut that has weighed on prices.
"There's so much doubt regarding this OPEC meeting," Guilfoyle said in a phone interview. "I think there's a lot of smoke here, smoke and mirrors. They'll probably come to some kind of agreement, at least in principle, because they have to because there's a lot of pressure on them."
Saudi Arabia pulled out of a planned meeting on Monday with non-OPEC oil producers, claiming the get-together was pointless until OPEC finalized its production targets. The 14-nation OPEC cartel is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Vienna.
"We are not optimistic that a significant cut will happen," Stewart Glickman, CFRA analyst and head of energy research, wrote in a note. "And without a major cut, we see little reason why U.S. commercial crude oil inventories, now sitting at 489 million barrels, or 27% above the five-year average, should start to improve."
The U.S. Dollar Index, which is a measure of the dollar relative to six foreign currencies, fell 0.08% to 101.32. The index was volatile in earlier trading Monday. Gold for February delivery settled at $1,193.80 per ounce up 1.1% as the dollar remained volatile and the stock market slumped.
Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the busiest online shopping day of the year. But with stores releasing Internet deals earlier, more and more shoppers decided to skip the mayhem at brick-and-mortar locations and purchased goods online. A National Retail Federation survey estimated that more than 122 million Americans will shop online Monday, a million more than the prior year.
Consumers spent $3.34 billion shopping online on Friday, a 21.6% increase from the same day last year, according to Adobe Digital Insights.
However, a few retailers, like J.C. Penney (JCP) and Target (TGT) , saw strong starts to the holiday shopping season at their store locations. Online shopping giant Amazon.com (AMZN) will be in focus on Cyber Monday.
Amazon shares fell 1.9% as Citigroup analysts said the online retailer has had to sharply discount its prices in order to compete this holiday season. Analysts slashed their price targets on the stock.
Barnes & Noble (BKS) could be another company suffering from competitive pricing, as share of the bookseller declined 1.9% to $12.70 in midday trading.
Time Inc. (TIME) shares gained 20% in midday trading after its board didn't accept a buyout offer of $18 a share from Edgar Bronfman Jr., according to the New York Post. Bronfman is reported to have worked with Access Industries and Ynon Kreiz, a Israeli businessman, on the bid.
Shares of information technology services company Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH) jumped 7% after activist investor Elliott Management, which owns 4% of the stock, sent a letter to the company saying it should start paying dividends to shareholders and complete a $2.5 billion share-repurchase plan. Elliott also called for new members on the board of Cognizant. Cognizant said it has discussed the letter with Elliott and "welcome open communications with all of its shareholders."
H&R Block (HRB) fell 7.6% as BTIG downgraded the stock to sell from neutral, noting that President-elect Donald Trump's promise to simplify tax filing may be a negative for the company.
Schlumberger (SLB) , the world's largest oil driller by market value, signed a preliminary deal to study an Iranian oil field, the Journal reported. The stock was up 0.5%.
Shares of Lockheed Martin (LMT) dropped slightly after Israel's security cabinet approved the purchase of an additional 17 Lockheed F-35 stealth fighter jets, bringing its total number on order to 50, according to reports.
The economic calendar in the U.S. was quiet Monday but traders will be gearing up for data releases later this week, including the U.S. jobs report for November on Friday and the second estimate of third-quarter GDP on Tuesday.