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Stocks Close Lower Ahead of Fed Minutes, Jobs Report

Stocks closed lower on Monday, with the S&P 500 extending its 2014 losses into a third session, as mixed economic data put investors in a cautious mode ahead of the jobs report at the end of the week.The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 44 points, with Microsoft the leading laggard among the blue-chip index's 30 components.The S&P 500 declined 4 points, with materials and consumer discretionary the hardest hit and telecommunications and financials the best performing sectors. The Nasdaq dropped 18 points."The precursor to the main event this week is the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes on Wednesday, then all eyes on the payrolls number," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group, referring to the non-farm payrolls figure for December, set for release on Friday.The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index came in at 53.0 in December, lower than estimates that it would climb to 54.6 from 53.9 the month before.