Stocks Post Moderate Losses to Start Week

The U.S. equity market fell on Monday, a day ahead of the beginning of the third-quarter earnings season.

On Tuesday, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) will kick off the key period with its quarterly results. Investor sentiment was cautious on Monday as concerns about the Chinese economy triggered some profit taking. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost a little less than 27 points, outperforming both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. The widely watched blue-chip index traded in a range between 13,552 and 13,610 and closed just below 13,584.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) fell 0.34 percent to close at $145.64. Volume was very light with only 74 million SPY shares trading hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 122 million.

The PowerShares QQQ Trust ETF (NASDAQ:QQQ), which tracks the performance of the Nasdaq 100, fell 0.91 percent to $68.35. Technology was the weakest sector on Monday, which helped to weigh down the entire Nasdaq market.

U.S. crude oil recorded a small loss on Monday, but Brent crude rose slightly. NYMEX futures declined 0.23 percent to $89.67 while Brent futures rose 0.12 percent to $112.15. The United States Oil Fund ETF (NYSE:USO) fell 0.39 percent to $33.22.

Precious metals were also lower on the day. COMEX gold futures registered a decline of 0.22 percent to $1,776.80 while silver fell 1.55 percent to $34.035. The heavily traded SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSE:GLD) lost 0.33 percent and closed at $172.05.

The cautious atmosphere and lukewarm risk sentiment on Monday caused investors to move money into Treasury bonds. The iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) added 0.84 percent to $122.17.

The U.S. dollar was also higher on the day. The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, added 0.23 percent to $21.81. Dollar index futures registered a gain of 0.32 percent. The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last trading down 0.51 percent to $1.2965.

(c) 2012 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.