US stocks fell as earnings season looms

NYSE traders Image copyright Reuters

(Close): Wall Street stocks fell on Monday after a late day sell-off, as investors prepare themselves for a slew of company results this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 20.55 points, or 0.12%, to 17,556.41.

The S&P 500 fell 5.61 points to 2,041.99, while the Nasdaq dipped 17.29 points to 4,833.40.

The research firm S&P Capital IQ has predicted first-quarter earnings will drop 8.1% among S&P 500 companies compared with a year ago.

US banks which begin reporting their earnings on Wednesday - had a positive day. Goldman Sachs shares rose 1.3% and JP Morgan was up 0.8%.

Shares in Yahoo rose 1.1% after the owner of the Daily Mail newspaper said it was in talks with other parties about a possible bid for the company.

A spokesman said discussions were "at a very early stage" and there was no certainty a deal would take place.

Aluminium firm Alcoa was due to report its earning after the close of trading. Its shares were up 4% in anticipation of strong results.

Car rental company Hertz saw its shares fall 11.5% after the company predicted it would miss first quarter and full year earnings expectations. The company said excess industry capacity was the cause of the fall.

Shares of competitor Avis Budget Group fell 8%.