NEW YORK, Mar. 29 -- U.S. stocks undercut advances in the final hour of session on Monday as enthusiasm of positive economic news faded, and worries over turmoil in Middle East and North Africa weighed in.
According to the National Association of Realtors, and pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly rose in February, suggesting a modest recovery in home sales.
The U.S. Commerce Department said on Monday that consumer spending rose 0.7 percent in February. Personal incomes rose 0.3 percent. The reading was just after a 1.2 percent January income increase, which was the biggest in nearly two years.
The personal consumption expenditure index rose 0.4 percent on the month, the largest monthly gain since July 2008. It was considered as a more accurate measure of inflation than the consumer price index.
The upbeat economic news helped to boost the U.S. equity markets in early trading session on Monday as the telecom sectors led the advancers. However, the markets failed to maintain its gains as fears over unrest in Middle East and North Africa weighed in. Oil prices declined on Monday as Libyan rebels reclaimed oil ports and vowed to restart exports.
Last week was the best for the Dow Jones industrial average since July as investors cheered for the positive U.S. economic news. The retreat on Monday snapped three-day winning streak.
As of stocks, telecommunications shares advanced after an analyst said that it was very likely that AT&T's merger proposal will be approved by regulators. AT&T gained 1.77 percent on Monday.
Transportation shares were one of the best performers on Monday, gaining 0.59 percent. Basic Materials sector, the best winner last week, lost 0.5 percent and Energy shares was down 0.68 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 22.71 points, or 0.19 percent, to 12,197.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 3.61 points, or 0.27 percent to 1,310.19. The Nasdaq was down 12.38 points, or 0.45 percent to 2,730.68.