John Linahan, head of T. Rowe Price's U.S. equity group, said that if those negotiations stretch into late December, the stock market could resemble the wild trading of August 2011, when markets flipped from big gains one day to steep losses the next.
Energy stocks and the price of crude oil fell after the president of Egypt predicted that Israel's weeklong offensive in the Gaza Strip would end in hours and the Israeli prime minister said Israel would be a “willing partner” to a cease-fire.
Crude oil was down $2.53, or 2.8 percent, to $86.75 per barrel. It traded above $89 earlier in the day. Energy stocks in the S&P slipped 0.4 percent as a group. Tech stocks fared the worst, losing 0.6 percent.
The Nasdaq composite index gained 0.61 of a point to 2,916.68. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.66 percent.
Among stocks making headlines:
Hormel Foods dropped $1.25, or 4 percent, to $30.05 after its earnings and revenue fell below Wall Street expectations. The company said sales of Spam remained strong, and it increased its annual dividend 13 percent, to 68 cents per share.
Best Buy fell $1.79, or 13 percent, to $11.96, its lowest in more than a decade. The company, which has struggled for years against increased competition from online electronics retailers, turned in another dismal earnings report.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts climbed $1.77, or 23 percent, to $9.31 after it forecast earnings for 2013 above what Wall Street was expecting.
Green Mountain Coffee rose 54 cents, or 2 percent, to $27.87 after picking a new CEO, Brian Kelley of Coca-Cola.