Wall Street falls on banks' settlement, doubts on earnings

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks fell on Monday as investors cashed in recent gains that lifted the S&P 500 to a five-year high and awaited the start of the fourth-quarter earnings season.

The day's decline was broad across all sectors, but energy and utilities were the top decliners. The S&P 500 energy sector index <.gspe> fell 1 percent and the utilities sector <.gspu> was off 1.2 percent.

Another sector in focus was the financials. Financial stocks fell after a group of major U.S. banks agreed to pay billions in settlement with U.S. regulators.

The KBW bank index <.bkx>, a gauge of U.S. bank stocks, was down 0.7 percent.

Earnings are expected to be only slightly better than the third-quarter's lackluster results, and analysts' current estimates are down sharply from where they were in October.

"There is little doubt that concerns about the fiscal cliff created spending hesitancy in both consumers and businesses in the fourth quarter, and it is likely that will adversely impact earnings season," margins are choppy and cost cuts have run their course, said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.

Aluminum company Alcoa Inc will unofficially launch the reporting season by announcing its results after Tuesday's market close. Alcoa shares were down 1 percent at $9.17.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> was down 76.03 points, or 0.57 percent, at 13,359.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was down 8.40 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,458.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was down 11.89 points, or 0.38 percent, at 3,089.77.

The day's decline came a session after the S&P 500 finished at a five-year high and investors booked profits on stocks' best weekly gain in more than a year, boosted by a budget deal and economic data. The S&P 500 rose 4.6 percent last week.

Ten mortgage servicers - including Bank of America , Citigroup , JPMorgan , and Wells Fargo - agreed on Monday to pay $8.5 billion to end a case-by-case review of foreclosures required by U.S. regulators.

Bank of America also announced roughly $11.6 billion of settlements with mortgage finance company Fannie Mae and a $1.8 billion sale of collection rights on home loans.

The bank also entered into agreements with Nationstar Mortgage Holdings and Walter Investment Management to sell about $306 billion of residential mortgage servicing rights.

"The settlements may remove any overhang for the stock in the near term, but it only partially satisfies the issue," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management.

Bank of America shares were down 0.7 percent at $12.02 while Nationstar Mortgage Holdings jumped 12.7 percent to $37.44.

Citigroup shares were down 0.5 percent to $42.20. Wells Fargo shares fell 1.1 percent to $34.55.

Walt Disney Co started an internal cost-cutting review several weeks ago that may include layoffs at its studio and other units, three people with knowledge of the effort told Reuters. Disney shares fell 2.4 percent to $50.95.

Video-streaming service Netflix Inc shares gained 2.3 percent to $98.20 after it said it will carry previous seasons of some popular shows produced by Time Warner's Warner Bros Television.

Amazon.com shares hit their highest price ever at $269.22 after Morgan Stanley raised is rating on the stock. Shares were up 2.8 percent at $266.63.

Major U.S. technology companies could miss estimates for fourth-quarter earnings as budget worries likely led some corporate clients to tighten their belts last month.

(Reporting By Angela Moon; Editing by Kenneth Barry and Nick Zieminski)

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