The Dow Jones industrials and S&P 500 fell on Monday on fears of a worsening recession and uncertainty about the Obama administration's plan to stem bank losses.
However the Nasdaq was propelled highter, helped by the bet that technology stocks might be among early beneficiaries from a likely economic stimulus.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 64.11 points, or 0.80%, to 7,936.75 - its lowest closing level in 2009.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dipped 0.45 point, or 0.05%, to 825.43. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 18.01 points, or 1.22 percent, to 1,494.43.
Tech standouts included market bellwethers Microsoft Corp, up more than 4.2%, and Intel Corp, up over 5.6%.
However, concerns about the apparent delay in a plan to shore up beleaguered banks and unease about wrangling in Washington over a stimulus measure helped undermine sentiment. There were declines in shares of big manufacturers and banks.
Shares of Macy's Inc also dropped after the department store chain said it would cut 7,000 jobs and slashed its quarterly dividend. The share price slid 4% to $8.59.
US President Barack Obama said in an interview with NBC it was likely that banks have not fully acknowledged all their losses and that "some banks won't make it" through the crisis.