“There’s not a single catalyst,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. “I think we have pre-game jitters ahead of earnings reports.”
First quarter earnings season officially kicks off on Tuesday with blue chipsreporting before the bell and after the close. also reports before the open.
“It will be very interesting to listen to the companies on where they see the economy and how they are handling the current situation,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management.
Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital, is watching Tuesday’s retail sales and JPMorgan earnings.
“I don’t think any of the economic data points to a recession but the banks would be the first to show if the people they lend to—especially in the credit card sector—are seeing signs of pressure,” she said.
Under pressure from the strong dollar and low oil prices, corporate profit expectations are significantly negative for the first time in six years, with Thomson Reuters reporting a likely 2.9 percent drop in S&P 500 net income.
“We really have a bias towards financials this week in terms of earnings reporting,” Hogan said. “Everyone tries to extrapolate what JPMorgan means for.”
“Last week was really driven by the strong energy trade and M&A,” he said.
closed down 3 percent, pressuring the Dow and S&P 500 industrials. The stock surged 10.8 percent on Friday after the announced restructuring of GE Capital and stock buybacks. The appliance and industrial products manufacturer reports quarterly earnings before the bell on Friday.
Thegave up morning gains to close down 80.61 points, or 0.45 percent, at 17,977.04, with JPMorgan Chase ending 0.60 percent higher to lead five blue chip advancers and GE the greatest laggard.
Thealso lost early gains to closed down 9.63 points, or 0.46 percent, at 2,092.43, with industrials the greatest of 9 declining sectors and financials the only advancer.
Thedipped in and out of negative territory before closing down 7.73 points, or 0.15 percent, at 4,988.25, despite the holding modest gains of 0.24 percent.
The Russell 2000 edged higher but fell short of setting a record.
“Today really … is just a waiting game,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group. Stocks are moving “a little bit (on) the dollar and oil. That’s going to help us but I’m not sure which way.”
The U.S. dollar rose against major world currencies, with the euro lower below $1.06. Oil pared gains with crude settling up 27 cents at $51.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The United States ended the month of March with a, up 43 percent from the same period last year, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Monday.
U.S. Treasury yields traded just below recent highs, with thenear 1.93 percent. The was 0.52 percent.
“Technically speaking the market is in pretty good shape. That could change once earnings begin to flow in,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.
Earlier, the major indices attempted to hold above key levels, with the S&P 500 briefly above 2,100, the Nasdaq near 5,000 and the Dow Jones industrial average mostly trading above 18,000.
BTIG Chief Technical Strategist Katie Stockton noted intraday resistance levels for the S&P 500 of 2,107 to 2,109.
Despite some expectations of a short-term pullback, Stockton said in a morning report that “we expect the SPX to follow the leaders to a new all-time high, with the belief that earnings season is likely to yield more breakouts than breakdowns among individual stocks.”
S&P and Nasdaq breakouts above resistance are significant indicators for the overall market trend, said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. “If we do get financials going and tech going the market can really drive higher,” he said.
Thewidely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded above 14.
Decliners were a step ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 662 million and a composite volume of 2.9 billion in the close.
Gold futures settled down $5.30 to $1,199.30 an ounce.
Chinese equities continued to advance, closing at 7-year highs on Monday, despite a greater-than-expected. The negative data weighed on mining stocks, sending after a week of strong gains.
Greece remained an issue, with the Financial Times reporting thatin case debt talks with its international creditors fail before the month’s end.
U.S. stocks closed higher on Friday, marking a three-day rally with the Dow topping 18,000 for the first time in April.
“I think the markets are really geared to company-specific news (this week and next),” Kingsview’s Nolte said. “We may not see too much movement in the underlying index because of them.”
closed down 0.62 percent following news that activist investor about potentially spinning off its chip unit from its patent-licensing business.
ended mildly lower following news that the Apple Watch customers will have to wait longer than expected for delivery. The iPhone maker pushed back shipping times to May and June after the wearable saw a surge in orders. A Bank of America report estimates Apple will ship about four million Apple Watches during the June quarter.
closed 0.72 percent higher after it struck a 50/50 joint venture deal with , designed to unlock the real estate value in the 10 properties it will contribute to the venture. The news follows a similar deal with another mall operator, , earlier this month.
closed 0.71 percent higher after a Wall Street Journal report said rival Spotify was near a deal to raise $400 million in a round that values it at $8.4 billion.
—CNBC’s Patti Domm and Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.
On tap this week: