US stocks ease after record-smashing run

US stocks opened modestly lower Monday after the Dow's record-breaking run last week, as data from China and Europe highlighted the continued struggle of the global economic powers.

Thirty minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down just 0.59 points to 14,396.48.

The broader S&P 500 fell 1.09 (0.07 percent) to 1,550.09, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slipped 5.85 points (0.18 percent) at 3,238.52.

"The early weakness, which isn't all that weak, probably has more to do than anything else with an expectation that there will be some profit-taking after last week's 2.2 percent gain," said Patrick O'Hare of Briefing.com.

New European data on fourth quarter 2012 growth confirmed the continuing recession, though Greece's contraction came in less severe than earlier estimated.

In China, inflation hit a 10-month high of 3.2 percent in February while growth in industrial output and retail sales slowed, raising concerns that the pick-up in the world's second largest economy may be slowing and that the government could unveil measures to temper prices.

United Health led Dow gainers with a 1.1 percent gain, while General Electric fell 1.0 percent to lead the blue-chip losers.

Retailer Dick's Sporting Goods plunged 8.1 percent to $46.52 after missing profit expectations in its fiscal fourth quarter earnings, coming in at $1.03 a share against an expected $1.06. The first quarter 2013 forecast was lower than expected at 47 cents a share.

Online gaming house Zynga added 6.3 percent.

Bond prices rebounded slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 2.04 percent from 2.06 percent late Friday, while the 30-year eased to 3.24 percent from 3.25 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

pmh/sst