Stocks slip as geopolitical tensions simmer

|By:, SA News Editor

Stocks declined but bounced off earlier lows after Friday's sharp gains, as investors remain jittery amid escalating conflict in Gaza and the potential for tougher sanctions against Russia in the wake of the downing of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet.

Every sector finished lower - although losses were limited - except the energy sector, which followed crude oil prices higher; the Russell 2000, which fell as much as 1% early, recovered much of its losses and ended down just 0.4%.

McDonald's -1.4% and Yum Brands -4.2% after the fast-food chains suspended purchases in China on allegations a meat supplier sold expired chicken and beef to restaurants; Herbalife -11.2% after hedge fund manager Bill Ackman told CNBC he would "expose incredible fraud" at the company.

There was not a strong flight-to-safety trade: The 10-year Treasury note ended up two ticks; gold prices rose just 0.3%; the utilities, consumer staples and telecom services sectors all finished lower, and the VIX was reined in after an opening burst of buying interest took it up as much as 13%.

Only 530M shares traded hands at the NYSE.