The Nasdaq composite index closed down 23.50 to 2,493.52, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up 9.24 to 1,315.19. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 56.88 to 10,692.44.
"It's a typical postholiday trading day," said Todd Clark, head of trading at WR Hambrecht. "The markets are just drifting on light volume."
Volume was indeed light on the major exchanges. The Nasdaq handled 1.55 billion shares, while about 794 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange.
Brian Belski, a market strategist at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, believes trading will remain light throughout the week, as is the norm for this time of year. "In fact...(trading) might be lighter than usual because a lot of people have thrown in the towel," he said. "Now is not the time to make significant bets in the market."
Belski thinks most investors see no point in buying into the market right now after such a tough year, but some will try to dress up their portfolios if the opportunity presents itself.
Some major tech companies held the Nasdaq back.
Sun Microsystems lost $1.56 to $30.31, Juniper Networks fell $5.64 to $117.48; and Cisco Systems declined 75 cents to $40.75.
The CNET tech index fell 18.49 to 2,034.98. Decliners beat out advancers, with 62 of the 97 stocks in the index falling, 33 rising and two remaining unchanged.
Other stocks glowed with holiday cheer. Shares of Yahoo rose $1.63, or about 6 percent, to $31.19. The company said order volume through its network of e-tailing partners doubled this year from last year's holiday shopping season. E-tailer Amazon.com rose $1.38, or almost 9 percent, to $16.94.
Yahoo helped e-tailers post solid gains. Of the 18 sectors tracked by CNET Investor, Internet e-tailers were the largest of the day's three gainers, climbing 1 percent. Server hardware and PC hardware makers posted the sharpest drops, falling about 4 percent each.
Chip stocks headed lower. The Philadelphia semiconductor index fell 8.26 to 578.88, led by chipmaker Altera, which dropped $1.19 to $26.38. Motorola led the gainers on the index, rising $1.25 to $20.