Media reports early Monday suggested that China is pessimistic about a deal because of U.S. reluctance to ease existing tariffs. That conflicted with a report from China's state media over the weekend that said negotiators had constructive discussions.
Trade negotiations between the world's two largest economies have become the main focus for the market as the latest round of corporate earnings comes to a close. The broader market has been rallying for weeks and major indexes are still trading near record highs set on Friday.
Technology stocks made some of the biggest declines in the early going. Broadcom fell 1.4% and Cisco fell 1%.
Oil prices dipped 1% and weighed on energy stocks. Exxon Mobil fell 1.1% and Chevron fell 1.3%.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.81% from 1.83% late Friday.
Investors leaned toward safe-play holdings. Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola both rose just under 1%. Utilities and real estate companies also held up better than the rest of the market.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 0.2% as of 10:21 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 12 points to 27,992. The Nasdaq fell 0.3%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks fell 0.4%.
European markets moved lower and Asian markets made gains.
WEEK AHEAD: Several important retailers will report earnings this week and close out the latest round of corporate results. More than 90% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported their latest earnings.
Home improvement retailer Home Depot will report results on Tuesday. Target and Lowe's will report results on Wednesday. Macy's and Gap will release their earnings on Thursday.
Investors will get a more detailed look at the Federal Reserve's latest decision to cut interest rates when the central bank releases minutes from its October meeting on Wednesday.
LOW INK: Computer and printer maker HP fell 1.1% after rejecting Xerox's roughly $33.5 billion takeover offer, saying it was too low.
HP also said it was concerned about Xerox's debt. Both companies have faced difficulties as the demand for printed documents and ink have waned. Xerox fell just under 1%.
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