Shares of biotech companies were among the biggest drags, including Biogen
The S&P financials <.SPSY> were up 0.3 percent, helped by prospects for higher interest rates, while S&P consumer staples <.SPLRCS> rose 0.5 percent, led by a 1.5 percent gain in Procter & Gamble
"People are sick of timing the Fed when it comes to this sector. People don't want to miss the boat," said Andrew Frankel, co-president of Stuart Frankel & Co in New York regarding the rise in financial shares.
Another batch of strong economic data underscored views that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates in September.
Data showed that U.S. job openings surged to a record high in April and small business confidence increased in May, signs that the economy was regaining momentum after stumbling at the start of the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 2.51 points, or 0.01 percent, to 17,764.04, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 0.87 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,080.15 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 7.76 points, or 0.15 percent, to 5,013.87.
The Dow Jones transportation average <.DJT> ended down 0.3 percent, just shy of correction territory, which would be a drop of 10 percent from its Dec. 29, 2014, record close of 9,217.44.
"It's a market that's searching for a rationale at this point ... and waiting for next week's (Fed) meeting," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, which is based in Newark, New Jersey.
Shares of Procter & Gamble climbed 1.5 percent to $78.90, leading gains in the staples sector, after Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter, reported late Monday that Henkel & Co
Shares of Hovnanian Enterprises
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,976 to 1,066, for a 1.85-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,645 issues fell and 1,093 advanced for a 1.51-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 10 new 52-week highs and nine new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 88 new highs and 46 new lows.
About 5.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, about even with the 6.1 billion daily average for the month to date, according to data from BATS Global Markets.- Reuters