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Wall St down after factory data, last week's records

by FP Staff  Apr 2, 2013 03:00 IST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Monday in one of the lightest volume days of the year, pulling back after the S&P 500's record closing high last week and weaker-than-expected U.S. manufacturing data.

Apple (AAPL.O) was the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 .NDX, falling 3.1 percent to $428.91. Portfolio manager Will Danoff, whose $92 billion Fidelity Contrafund is the largest active shareholder in Apple, cut the fund's stake in the iPhone maker by 10 percent during the first two months of 2013.

Data showed U.S. factory activity grew at the slowest rate in three months in March, suggesting the economy lost some momentum at the end of the first quarter.

Recent data has pointed to a strengthening U.S. economy in general, however, and has helped push stocks to record highs on both the Dow and S&P 500. The S&P 500 ended March with a record closing high, and posted its best quarterly performance in a year, while the Dow broke into new record territory in early March.

"It was very difficult for the S&P 500 technically to break through that high level and to even close there, so it doesn't surprise me that today is a down day. I think there's a lot of resistance at the 1,565 level," said Brian Amidei, managing director at HighTower Advisors in Palm Desert, California.

The benchmark S&P index remains below its record intraday high of 1,576.09. Moves may be limited this week in the absence of major catalysts before the closely-watched U.S. payrolls report on Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 5.69 points, or 0.04 percent, at 14,572.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 7.02 points, or 0.45 percent, at 1,562.17. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 28.35 points, or 0.87 percent, at 3,239.17.

Volume was among the lowest of the year, totalling roughly 5.1 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT. That compares with the 2012 average daily closing volume of about 6.45 billion.

For the year, the S&P is up 9.5 percent, the Dow is up 11.2 percent and the Nasdaq is up 7.3 percent.

With the strong start to the year, many investors have been anticipating a pullback. Uncertainty over the economic future of Cyprus has weighed on stocks in recent sessions. European markets were closed on Monday for a holiday.

Among the day's biggest gainers, Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) surged 15.9 percent to $43.93 after forecasting full profitability in the first quarter, citing strong sales of its Model S sedan.

Decliners included Dell Inc (DELL.O), which warned that it would be dangerous to take on a lot of debt and remain a public company given its worsening profit outlook, in a sign that it views proposals from Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) and billionaire investor Carl Icahn as fraught with risk. The comments came on Friday, which was a holiday for U.S. markets.

Shares of Dell dipped 0.2 percent to $14.30.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity fell to 51.3 last month from 54.2 in February. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector.

A separate report showed construction spending rose more than expected in February, gaining 1.2 percent, above forecasts of a 1 percent rise.

(Editing by Peter Galloway and Nick Zieminski)