updated 3/28/2011 4:06:21 PM ET 2011-03-28T20:06:21

Stocks closed lower Monday as traders showed concern over Japan's nuclear crisis and violence in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending rose at its fastest pace in four months in February, though some of the increase was driven by higher gas prices. The National Association of Realtors said more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in February than economists were expecting. Sales rose in every region but the Northeast, but remained below what is considered a healthy level.

Major Market Indices

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.71 points, or 0.19 percent, to 12,197.88. The broader S&P 500 index dipped 3.61, or 0.27 percent, to 1,310.19. The Nasdaq composite declined 12.38, or 0.45 percent, to 2,730.68.

"We are continuing to grind higher because all of the economic data that was stronger than expected," said John Brady, a senior vice president at MF Global. "There was no more bad news out of the Middle East over the weekend and the situation in Libya looks like it's stabilizing."

In Libya, rebels gained ground against longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi after international airstrikes against Gadhafi's forces. Oil prices fell as Libyan rebels retook control of key port towns Ras Lanouf and Brega and said they would resume exporting crude within weeks.

Story: Pending home sales unexpectedly rose in February

In the U.S., Eastman Kodak Co. jumped nearly 9 percent after the U.S. Trade Commission said it will review a judge's finding in a patent dispute with Apple Inc. and Research in Motion Ltd. A favorable ruling could pave the way for Kodak to reap higher fees.

Quotes delayed 15+ min.

Oil-services companies Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. each rose more than 5 percent to lead the 500 stocks in the S&P index. Netflix Inc. rose 4.5 percent after announcing a deal with Paramount to stream more movies to subscribers in Canada.

Retailer Harry & David said it would file for bankruptcy reorganization after battling weak revenue and hefty debt. The seller of fruit baskets and snack gifts has struggled as consumers cut down on discretionary spending.

This is a data-heavy week on Wall Street. A crucial jobs report and manufacturing surveys will be released over the next five days.

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Data: Highs and lows of the bull market

Photos: Pain at the Pump

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  1. Randy Bish / Politicalcartoons.com
    Above: Slideshow (8) Pain at the pump
  2. Cam Cardow / Ottawa Citizen, Politicalcartoons.com
    Slideshow (9) Trapped in the economy
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    Slideshow (7) Where's my job?

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Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 5.04%
$30K home equity loan FICO 5.23%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.66%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.28%
13.27%
Cash Back Cards 17.74%
17.72%
Rewards Cards 17.01%
16.98%
Source: Bankrate.com