The Dow and the S&P 500 indexes dipped on Monday, extending losses from Wall Street's worst week since June last week, but Apple and BlackBerry kept the Nasdaq index afloat.
Trading volume was light, marking one of the five days this year with fewer than 5 billion shares traded over a full session. Many traders are away on holiday in August, amplifying market swings, and the earnings period is drawing to a close as the market enters a seasonally slow period.
But hedging activity picked up in the options market as traders brace for a short-term decline in equities, according to Credit Suisse.
"While we're seeing increased near-term hedging going into September's (Federal Reserve) meeting, the option market is becoming more constructive on the medium-term market outlook," said Mandy Xu, equity derivatives strategist at Credit Suisse in New York.
Fed stimulus has helped fuel the S&P's gain of nearly 19 percent in 2013. The Fed is seen as moving toward reducing its$85 billion in monthly bond purchases, causing some investors to take a step back from stocks.
Some Fed officials have said the U.S. central bank could begin scaling back its quantitative easing next month if the economy continues to improve.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 5.83 points, or 0.04 percent, at 15,419.68. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 1.95 points, or 0.12 percent, at 1,689.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 9.84 points, or 0.27 percent, at 3,669.95.
U.S.-listed shares of smartphone maker BlackBerry (BBRY.O) rose 10.5 percent to $10.78 after the company said it had set up a committee to explore a possible sale or partnership. The stock was the most actively traded on Nasdaq on Monday.
Shares of Apple Inc (AAPL.O), the world's largest technology company, rose 2.8 percent to $467.36 after technology blog AllThingsD reported the company is expected to present its redesigned iPhone in September.
Steinway Musical Instruments (LVB.N), the manufacturer of pianos, saxophones and trumpets, said it received a $38-per-share buyout offer from an investment firm it did not identify, topping an earlier bid by Kohlberg & Co. Shares of Steinway rose 9.3 percent to $39.59.
Vical Inc (VICL.O) shares plummeted 57 percent to $1.53 after the company said it would stop developing cancer therapy Allovectin after a late-stage trial failed. The stock was one of the most actively traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) dipped 3.7 percent to $147.38 after Lazard downgraded the stock.
Other decliners were commercial real estate companies including Prologis (PLD.N), down 1.6 percent at $37.68 and BRE Properties (BRE.N), down 0.9 percent at $50.27.
Volume was roughly 4.9 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, below the average daily closing volume of about 6.36 billion this year.
On the NYSE, advancing stocks beat decliners by 1,626 to 1,364. On the Nasdaq, advancing stocks beat decliners by 1,430 to 1,086.