Stocks fell Monday, closing lower on one of the final trading days of a dismal year, amid global tensions and downbeat corporate news. The Dow Jones industrial average settled at 8,483.93, down 31.62 points or 0.37 percent, after falling more than 1.5 percent earlier in the session. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index retreated 3.38 points to 869.42. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.3 percent, 19.92 points, to 1,510.32.
Trading has been subdued recently, with many investors on vacation or holding off on large transactions until 2009. On Friday, stocks drifted higher in a thinly traded session but still ended the week lower.
For the year, all three major indexes are down sharply: The Dow is off nearly 36 percent versus last year; the S&P 500 has tumbled 41 percent; and the Nasdaq is off 42 percent.
Looking ahead, the Conference Board is due to release its December index of consumer confidence Tuesday morning. The index is expected to rise to a reading of 45.2 from 44.9 in November, still near the lower end of its historic range.