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Stocks Begin the Week Mixed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The stock market rally finally fizzled Monday. The markets were mixed to start the week, following three straight weeks of gain.

The S&P 500 edged toward another record close after J.C. Penney said sales are improving.

Merck put a damper on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, saying its third-quarter profit plunged 35 percent because of competition from generic drugs and lower sales of its top-selling meds.

The Dow lost a point Monday to close at 15,569. The Nasdaq Composite closed off three points. The S&P 500 finished two points higher.

Shares of Homebuilders fell after the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy older homes fell in September to the lowest level in nine months.
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