U.S. stocks closed lower Monday as investors took more defensive positions on warnings of higher inflation and oil prices declined. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 51.98 points, or 0.3%, to close at 18,086.40, as shares of McDonald's Corp and Nike Inc. weighed on the average. The S&P 500 Index closed down 6.48 points, or 0.3%, at 2,126.50, it's lowest close since July 7, as the consumer-discretionary and energy sectors declined, while defensive plays like utilities led gainers. The Nasdaq Composite index dropped 14.34 points, or 0.3%, to close at 5,199.82. Both Bank of America analysts and bond guru Jeffrey Gundlach warned that investors are ill-prepared for higher inflation. Oil prices settled down 0.8% at $49.94 a barrel, the first sub-$50 close since Oct. 7.
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