NEW YORK — U.S. stocks fell on Monday, with the S&P 500 index retreating from a five-year high, as Wall Street looked to the next day’s start of the fourth-quarter earnings season.
The S&P 500 index fell 4.58 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 1,461.89.
The benchmark rose 4.6 percent last week to its highest close since Dec. 31, 2007.
With the threat of steep spending cuts and tax increases averted, and the next showdown over the debt ceiling not likely to concern investors until February, Wall Street will shift its focus to results from American corporations.
“Earnings do matter, but what may be as important is the outlook for the first quarter,” said Jim Russell, chief equity strategist and regional investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
“The equities market is trying so hard to find the all-clear signal, but we think managements will indicate the quarter slowed from October through December, so a slow start to 2013,” he said.
“The fourth quarter could tend to be a bit bumpy this time around, with the outlook for the first quarter cautious because of the Washington situation,” Russell said of the coming showdown over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.
“We saw evidence of the intensity on the Sunday morning talk shows. Democrats are looking for additional revenue and Republicans are looking for spending cuts. We are going into this debate with some attitude on both sides,” Russell noted.
Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to grow 2.8 percent compared with the same period in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 50.92 points, or 0.4 percent, to end at 13,384.29, with Walt Disney Co. and Boeing Co. among the top decliners in the 30-component benchmark.
Intel Corp. was one of the gainers in the Dow, its shares up 0.4 percent after Lazard Capital Markets upgraded the chip maker.
Intel, along with Qualcomm Inc. and some other tech companies, are holding media presentations Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The Nasdaq composite index declined 2.84 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,098.81.
Shares of Illumina Inc. fell 7.1 percent after Roche Holding AG said it would not be making an offer for the maker of DNA-sequencing equipment.
Walgreen Co. added 2.3 percent after Jefferies Group Inc. raised its rating of the drugstore chain to buy from hold.
Yahoo Inc. declined 2.3 percent after Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. downgraded shares of the search engine.
Amazon.com Inc. gained 3.6 percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded the online retailer.
Alcoa Inc. reports after Tuesday’s close, with the aluminum producer the first Dow component slated to release fourth-quarter results. Wells Fargo & Co. will disclose earnings reports Friday.