Stocks fell Monday during a shortened trading day after the biggest tumble in five weeks for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, amid concern that President Barack Obama and Congress will fail to agree on a budget by the end of the year.
Seven out of 10 groups in the S&P 500 slumped. Hewlett-Packard Co. led losses among the biggest companies. Chevron Corp. slid 1 percent as energy companies fell. Research In Motion Ltd. erased 2.8 percent, after the largest drop since 2008 on Dec. 21. J.C. Penney & Co. and Home Depot Inc. paced gains with consumer discretionary stocks as shoppers made last-minute dashes to buy gifts.
The S&P 500 retreated 0.2 percent to 1,426.66. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 51.76 points, or 0.4 percent, to 13,139.08.
New York Stock Exchange trading closed at 1 p.m. ahead of the Christmas holiday.
Trading in S&P 500 companies was 38 percent below the 30-day average for that time of day.
“The action last week in Washington flipped the switch for short-term market movement from up to down,” said Frederic Dickson, who helps manage $32 billion as chief investment strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Ore.
Energy and technology companies posted the biggest drops out of 10 S&P 500 groups Monday, falling more than 0.4 percent. Hewlett-Packard slumped 2.3 percent, the most in the Dow, to $14.01. Chevron lost 1 percent to $108.63.
RIM, which is set to release its BlackBerry 10 line of smartphones early next year, sank 2.8 percent to $10.61. The company tumbled 23 percent on Dec. 21 after Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins said users who do not want enhanced services, including advanced security, are expected to generate “less or no service revenue.” Service fees accounted for about $982 million in sales last quarter, out of a total of $2.73 billion.
Herbalife Ltd. dropped 4.4 percent to $26.06, following a 19 percent drop on Dec. 21.