NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks opened lower at the start of the week after logging their biggest weekly loss in almost two months.
The stock market has been treading water in August as companies finished reporting earnings for the second quarter and investors considered when the Federal Reserve will start to ease back on its economic stimulus. The U.S. central bank is buying $85 billion a month to keep long-term interest rates low, and many analysts are expecting that it will start reducing those purchases as soon as next month.
"There will be some near-term volatility but it's a buying opportunity and a chance to get fully invested in the market," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist with ING U.S. Investment Management. A cut in stimulus "is not a risk, it's the most telegraphed event in the world."
The tepid August for stocks follows big gains for July, when the S&P 500 rose 5 percent, its biggest monthly gain since January. Stocks climbed that month after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured investors that the Fed would only ease back on its stimulus if the economy was strong enough to handle it.
Sluggish economic growth figures from Japan also disappointed investors.
The 2.6 percent annualized second-quarter growth rate recorded in Japan, the world's third-largest economy, was below the 3.8 percent rate recorded in the first quarter and the 3.6 percent predicted by analysts. Japan's main stock index, the Nikkei, fell 0.7 percent on the news.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 27 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,398 in the first hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,688. The Nasdaq composite rose 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,662.
In commodities trading, the price of gold rose for a fourth day, climbing $23.70, or 1.8 percent, to 1,335.50 an ounce. The rise in the price of gold gave a lift to Newmont Mining, which advanced $1.70, or 5.8 percent, to $31.23.
The price of oil fell 75 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $105.21 a barrel.
The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen.
Among stocks making big moves on Monday.
-- Krispy Kreme rose $1.22, or 5.6 percent, to $22.58 after the stock was upgraded by an analyst at Janney Capital Markets on the expectation that the company will have stronger sales growth than previously expected.
-- BlackBerry jumped 46 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $10.24, after the struggling smartphone maker said it would consider a sale. The Canadian company said Monday its board has formed a special committee to explore alternatives in hopes of increasing sales of its BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
--Sysco, a food distributor, fell $1.16, or 3.3 percent, to $33.85 after the company said that its net income fell 9 percent due to higher operating expenses and restructuring charges.