Media company Gannett Co Inc. fell $1.33, or 6.7 percent, to $18.51. Gannett's earnings beat Wall Street's expectations, but the company warned that its TV ad revenue will be hurt this quarter by the absence of $5.1 million in political spending and the move of the Super Bowl from NBC to CBS.
Among other companies making big moves was network gear maker Acme Packet Inc., which surged $5.66, or 23.7 percent, to $29.59 after Oracle said it would acquire the company for $2.1 billion.
McGraw-Hill Cos. plunged $8.04, or 13.8 percent, to $50.30 after midday news reports that the Justice Department plans to file civil charges against the company's Standard & Poor's credit rating unit. The government charges are expected to question S&P's high ratings of mortgage bonds that helped fuel the financial crisis.
Moody's Corp., another rating agency, followed McGraw-Hill down, even though there is no evidence that the government will charge that company. Moody's closed down $5.90, or 10.7 percent, at $49.45.
The two rating agencies had the biggest percentage declines in the S&P 500 index.
In Europe, political jitters about Spain and Italy pushed stocks lower. Some indexes had their worst day in months.
Concerns over Europe's debt crisis have eased since last summer, in part because of efforts by the Spanish and Italian governments to get their finances under control.
An upcoming election in Italy places some of those reforms in doubt. The Spanish government, meanwhile, is embroiled in a corruption scandal that's raising questions over the future of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
The euro fell to $1.3512. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.96 percent from 2.05 percent earlier Monday as demand for ultra-safe assets increased.
Oil prices drifted lower. Crude fell $1.60 to $96.17 a barrel in New York.
Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports