Oil prices at one-month highs and news of slower growth in the economy's service sector weighed on the stock market on Monday, driving key indexes modestly lower.
In other trading, long-term Treasury bond yields rose to three-week highs, and gold's powerful rally continued, driving the metal to a fresh 22-year high.
Japan's stock market hit a five-year high; the Mexican market hit a record.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average fell at the outset of trading, then was little changed the rest of the session. The 30-stock Dow ended with a loss of 42.50 points, or 0.4%, to 10,835.01, its fifth decline in six sessions.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.99 points, or 0.2%, to 1,262.09.
The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite, which hit a 4 1/2 -year high on Friday, gave up 15.73 points, or 0.7%, to 2,257.64.
Inflation worries again gave many investors pause, as oil prices neared $60 a barrel on concern about colder weather in the East. Near-term crude futures in New York rose 59 cents to $59.91 a barrel, the highest since Nov. 4.
"It's cold enough to make a difference" in demand, said Bill O'Grady, an analyst with A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis.
However, natural gas futures pulled back from the near-record levels reached on Friday. Gas slid 27.1 cents to $13.66 per million British thermal units.
The stock market had soared in November amid encouraging economic reports and falling energy prices for much of the month. But blue-chip shares stalled last week as energy prices and bond yields rebounded, although smaller stocks continued to advance.
If crude oil "gets back to $70 it will really start working on the market, or even at $65 people will get nervous, especially if it's a harsh winter," said Warren Simpson, managing director at Stephens Capital Management.
In economic news Monday, the Institute for Supply Management said its gauge of activity in the service sector declined in November from October, though it still indicated the sector was expanding.
The Treasury bond market took no solace from the weaker service-sector report. The 10-year T-note yield rose to 4.56%, up from 4.51% on Friday and the highest since Nov. 15. The two-year T-note rose to 4.46% from 4.42% on Friday, nearing the recent peak of 4.49% on Nov. 14.
Federal Reserve policymakers next week are expected to raise their key short-term interest rate from 4% to 4.25%, the 13th increase since mid-2004.
The prospect of higher interest rates isn't halting the gold market's rally. Near-term gold futures in New York rose $5.60 to $508.90 an ounce, the highest since 1983. Gold has soared from $461 an ounce on Nov. 1.
"Ongoing investor interest and lingering inflationary concerns leave gold prices well supported over the longer term," Goldman, Sachs & Co. said in a note to clients Monday.
Among the day's market highlights:
* Semiconductor stocks hurt Nasdaq, as the sector pulled back after strong gains in recent weeks. Intel slid 53 cents to $26.90, International Rectifier slumped $1.89 to $33.76 and Xilinx was down 90 cents to $26.46.
* Newspaper issues were broadly lower on concerns about advertising prospects. Gannett fell $1.01 to a 52-week low of $59.88. Tribune, parent of The Times, lost 53 cents to $30.86, also a 52-week low.
* Higher oil prices triggered selling in the retail sector on worries about consumer spending. Target fell $1.25 to $52.61 and Kohl's fell 84 cents to $46.12. Gap declined 32 cents to $17.47.
* Many transportation issues also were hurt by oil prices. United Parcel Service dropped $1.41 to $76.04 and trucker Yellow Roadway slid $1.29 to $45.16.
* On the plus side, energy stocks were mostly higher. Sunoco gained 93 cents to $83.75 and Valero Energy was up $2.69 to $104.49.
Many other commodity-related issues also were strong. Mining firm Phelps Dodge jumped $1.73 to $141.48 as copper hit a record high. U.S. Steel rose $2.49 to $50.60 on a favorable story in Barron's magazine.
But gold mining issues were mixed. Glamis Gold added 16 cents to $22.73; Barrick Gold lost 8 cents to $26.55.
* Google sank $11.85 to $405.85. David Darst, Morgan Stanley's chief investment officer, told Bloomberg News that Google investors should "sit near the exit" if they choose to keep holding shares that have more than quadrupled since the company went public.
* Japan's Nikkei-225 index rose 0.8% to a five-year high of 15,551.31 on optimism about capital spending. Mexico's main index gained 0.7% to a record 17,271.06. Falling interest rates in Mexico have bolstered stocks recently.