U.S. stocks edged lower on Monday as early moves by President Donald Trump highlighting a protectionist stance on trade gave investors cause to rethink the post-election rally.
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In his latest executive order, Trump signed to formally withdraw the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific partnership trade deal.
Trump has also vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with leaders of Canada and Mexico.
"Investors are really trying to gauge what the potential fallout or impact of Trump's approach to trade, economics, taxes and regulation looks like," said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group, in New York.
Earlier in the day, Trump met with a dozen prominent American manufacturers at the White House and said he would slash regulations and cut corporate taxes to boost the economy. Trump also plans to meet with leaders of construction and sheet metal unions on Monday and automotive executives Tuesday.
The post-election rally led Wall Street to repeated highs since the election but has stalled recently, with the S&P 500 having registered modest declines in consecutive weeks, as investors have become wary about the potential impact of an isolationist stance on world trade.
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"This is more or less a reversion to the mean. What surprises me is we haven't seen a sharper pullback," said Kenny.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 27.4 points, or 0.14 percent, to 19,799.85, the S&P 500 lost 6.11 points, or 0.27 percent, to 2,265.2 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.39 points, or 0.04 percent, to 5,552.94.
The dollar touched a seven-week low of 100.18 against a basket of major currencies, while prices of safe-haven gold hit a two-month high.
Energy stocks, down 1.1 percent, were the worst performing of the 11 major S&P sectors, as oil prices eased on signs of a strong recovery in U.S. drilling. Halliburton also weighed on the sector, down 2.9 percent after the world's No. 2 oilfield services provider reported a bigger loss in the latest quarter.
Qualcomm tumbled 12.7 percent to $54.88 after Apple filed a $1-billion lawsuit against the chip supplier on Friday. The stock suffered its worst day since November 2015 and was the biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.19-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.42-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 79 new highs and 41 new lows.
About 6.15 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, matching the daily average over the last 20 sessions.