index lost 4.78 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,373.47. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 8.76 points to 20,905.86. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.53 points to 5,901.53. The Russell 2000 of small-company stocks fell 7.43 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,384.10.
The stock market has mostly been quiet this month. Its two big moves were both linked to the Federal Reserve: on March 1 stocks jumped after the central bank signaled it would raise rates, and they climbed last Wednesday after the Fed made it clear it will move slowly for the rest of the year.
Britain’s government said it will trigger the process of leaving the EU on March 29. That will start a long negotiation between Britain and the EU, with uncertain effects for banks and other companies that do business across borders. Britain is expected to officially leave the union in 2019.
Bond prices rose, sending yields to their lowest in three weeks. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.46 percent from 2.5 percent.
Wells Fargo fell $1.04, or 1.8 percent, to $57.63 and Synchrony Financial gave up 92 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $34.20.
The British pound slipped to $1.2350 from $1.2396 late Friday, and it’s down about 20 percent since Britain voted to leave the EU in late June. The dollar declined to 112.58 yen from 112.70 yen. The euro fell to $1.0733 from $1.0743.
Benchmark U.S. crude declined 56 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.22 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 14 cents to $51.62 a barrel in London.
Dominion Diamond climbed $2.28, or 23 percent, to $12.20 after Washington Cos. went public with an offer to buy the diamond mining company for $13.50 per share, or about $1.1 billion.
Nektar Therapeutics soared after the company said an experimental pain drug met its goals in a latestage study. Its NKTR-181 is an opioid drug designed to relieve pain without causing euphoria, which the company said can contribute to drug abuse and addiction. It studied NKTR-181 as a treatment for lower back pain. Nektar stock rose $6.71, or 43.3 percent, to $22.21.
Gold rose $3.80 to $1,234 an ounce. Silver picked up 3 cents to $17.44 an ounce.