Wall Street stocks finished lower on Monday following a choppy session as the market fluctuated with shifting signals on the direction of US-China trade talks.
The latest round of high-level talks are due to begin Thursday, with Beijing's top trade envoy Liu He meeting with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the White House said in a statement.
Briefing.com attributed a mid-afternoon surge and subsequent swoon in stocks to news reports that first talked up progress only to subsequently emphasize the gap between the two sides.
"The market is still in a wait-and-see period for more clarity with respect to US-China trade talks," said Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investments.
"People are hoping for a swift resolution but realistically they know that most likely they will kick the can down the road because they are still too far apart on several fundamental issues."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4 percent to 26,477.75.
The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent to 2,938.74, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.3 percent, closing at 7,956.29.
Besides trade, investors await key data on consumer prices, as well as minutes from last month's Federal Reserve meeting. The market is also beginning to think about third-quarter earnings season, which begins this week and gets going in earnest next week.
Among individual companies, General Motors fell 0.6 percent after the United Autoworkers said the two sides remain far apart on a new contract as a strike dragged into a fourth week.
General Electric slipped 0.1 percent as it announced a number of changes to its retirement program to save money and reduce debt, including freezing pension plans for about 20,000 US employees.