Stocks closed mostly lower Monday, weighed down by a slide in oil and natural gas companies as the price of crude oil and other energy futures fell. Utilities were also among the big decliners, while health care stocks were headed for the biggest gain. The Nasdaq composite held on to a tiny gain, on course to close at a new high.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 76.42, or 0.4%, to 19,887.38 as the blue-chip index retreated further away from the 20,000 milestone pulled back from 20,000. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 0.4% to 2268.90. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.2% to close at a record 5531.82.
Several energy companies were down as crude oil prices veered lower. U.S. benchmark crude oil fell 3.8% to $51.96 a barrel in New York.
Several corporate deals were announced Monday:
• Surgical Care Affiliates surged 16% after the surgical care center operator agreed to be acquired by UnitedHealth for $2.3 billion in cash and stock. The deal comes as UnitedHealth, the nation’s biggest health insurer, looks to expand its Optum health business. UnitedHealth slipped 0.3%.
• Merrimack Pharmaceuticals rose 1.4% on news the drugmaker is selling its first approved drug, a pancreatic cancer treatment called Onivyde, to French drugmaker Ipsen in a deal worth at least $575 million.
• VCA vaulted 28% after the pet health care company agreed to be acquired by food and drinks company Mars for around $7.7 billion. The deal also includes $1.4 billion in debt.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX fell 0.3%, while France’s CAC 40 slid 0.5%. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.4%. Indexes in Asia were mixed.