The technology sector was in focus Monday, as shares of Apple declined and Dell's stock surged.
Apple, which briefly dipped below $500 following reports that the company cut orders for iPhone 5 components due to weak demand, was among the biggest losers in Nasdaq.
Apple's 3.6% decline weighed on the tech-heavy index in earlier trading, but a late-afternoon rally in shares of Dell trimmed some of those losses. Dell climbed nearly 13% following a Bloomberg report that the PC maker was in talks to go private.
The Nasdaq finished down just 0.3%. Earlier, it had fallen nearly 0.7%.
Fellow PC maker Hewlett-Packard also rose sharply on news that it had dethroned Lenovo as the top maker of personal computers. The 4.9% rise in HP's stock helped the Dow Jones industrial average post modest gains. HP shares were also upgraded by an analyst at JPMorgan.
But the broader U.S. market was little changed as investors gear up for a slew of corporate earnings coming this week. The S&P 500 lost 1 point.
Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are due to report their results Wednesday, while Intel, Bank of America and General Electric are up later in the week.
S&P 500 companies are expected to report overall earnings growth of 2.4% for the last three months of 2012, according to FactSet Research, and financial companies are expected to lead the way with earnings growth of more than 15%. In fact, excluding the financial sector, earnings growth for S&P 500 companies is expected to be just 0.2%.
In other corporate news, United Parcel Service Inc scrapped plans for a $6.8 billion merger with TNT Express NV, a smaller Dutch package delivery company. UPS blamed the European Commission for ruining the deal, saying the its antitrust regulator wouldn't allow it.
Swiss watch maker Swatch is buying Hollywood's go-to jeweler, Harry Winston. Shares of the exclusive jeweler's parent company, Harry Winston Diamond Corp., rose 4%, even though the deal won't include its gemstone mining operations.