The fourth quarter got off to a weak start for U.S. stock investors on Monday, with banks and utilities pulling the S&P 500 lower. Major indexes have bounced between gains and losses in the past few days, with investors nervous about the outcome of a tight race for the White House ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
Major banks extended recent declines as investors worried about the stability of Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and also Wells Fargo & Co's (WFC.N) handling of sales abuses.
U.S-listed shares of Deutsche lost 2.3% as hopes faded of a swift deal with U.S. authorities over a multi-billion dollar penalty for mis-selling mortgage-backed securities.
"The feeling is there will be a negotiation lowering that penalty but it's certainly a bit of an overhang on the overall market," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
The S&P 500 financial index .SPSY declined 0.53 percent as Wells Fargo (WFC.N) slid 1.15% to its lowest since December, 2013.
Also weighing on investor sentiment was a plan announced by Britain on Sunday to start its separation from the European Union by March.
With yields on U.S. Treasury bonds up following stronger-than-expected manufacturing data for September, the interest-rate sensitive utility sector .SPLRCU fell 1.35%.
The consumer staples index declined 0.63%, with Procter & Gamble (PG.N) falling 1.3%.
At 2:32 pm ET, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 0.32% to 18,249.36 points and the S&P 500 .SPX had lost 0.39% to 2,159.74.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 0.32% to 5,294.75.
Tesla Motors (TSLA.O) jumped 4.9% after the electric carmaker said third-quarter deliveries rose by 70 percent to 24,500 cars.
Cabela's (CAB.N) surged 14.9% after the retailer said it would be acquired by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at about $5.5 billion.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.44-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.49-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 10 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 64 new highs and 25 new lows.