December 28, 2015 / 2:41 PM / 2 years ago

Wall Street cedes ground as oil decline deepens

4 Min Read

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York December 17, 2015.Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) - Wall Street fell on Monday, hurt by a steep drop in oil prices as well as a dip in Apple shares, pushing the S&P 500 back into negative territory for 2015.

The S&P 500 energy sector .SPNY lost 1.79 percent, easily the poorest performer as a 3 percent drop in oil prices led investors to unload shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM.N), down 0.73 percent, and Chevron (CVX.N), which fell 1.84 percent. [O/R]

U.S. stock indexes have closely tracked crude prices in the past several weeks.

Following the U.S. Federal Reserve's first rate hike in almost a decade this month, the S&P 500 is marginally lower for the year and the Dow Jones industrial average is almost 2 percent weaker, disappointing investors hoping for a last-minute rally.

"The interest rate issue has been settled and markets have incorporated Fed action. But you have energy and tax loss harvesting moving markets back and forth in these last few weeks,” said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer at Exencial Wealth Advisors, which oversees $1.4 billion in assets.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended down 0.14 percent at 17,528.47 and the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.22 percent to 2,056.51. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC fell 0.15 percent to 5,040.99.

Apple (AAPL.O) lost 1.12 percent and was the biggest drag on the S&P and Nasdaq. The company's stock has lost 9 percent in the past month with investors worried that annual iPhone sales could decline for the first time in 2016.

Six out of 10 S&P sectors were lower, with consumer discretionary .SPLRCD up 0.26 percent and leading gainers thanks to a 1.87 percent rise in Amazon.com (AMZN.O).

Trading volumes are expected be subdued through the week, which is likely to exacerbate volatility.

Valeant (VRX.N) fell 10.48 percent after the Canadian drugmaker said Chief Executive Michael Pearson was going on medical leave.

Fitbit (FIT.N) rose 3.29 percent after reports that the wearable gadget maker's iOS app was the most downloaded after Christmas, suggesting strong holiday demand.

Dow component Walt Disney (DIS.N) gained 1.31 percent after the company's latest Star Wars installment topped $1 billion in ticket sales.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,924 to 1,172. On the Nasdaq, 1,850 issues fell and 1,011 rose.

The S&P 500 index showed four new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 41 new highs and 44 new lows.

Volume on the U.S. exchanges was 4.9 billion shares, compared to a 7.4 billion average over the last 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(This version of the story corrects to add dropped word "in" in lead paragraph)

Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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