* Yum shares fall on shrinkage of sales in China
* Monsanto stock jumps after strong earnings, raised outlook
* GameStop shares slide after sales data, guidance
* Dow, S&P 500 off 0.3 pct, Nasdaq down 0.16 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed
at the open on Tuesday as an earnings season expected to show
sluggish corporate growth gets under way.
Profits in the fourth quarter are seen above the previous
quarter's lackluster results, but analysts' current estimates
are down sharply from where they were in October. Quarterly
earnings are expected to grow by 2.8 percent, according to
Thomson Reuters data.
If earnings growth appears to be "less bad" than expected
that would translate into a near-term uptick in the market,
according to Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank
Wealth Management in New York.
"But I think there's still ample areas for concern," he
said, listing policy worries in Washington and uneven economic
activity as a result of Superstorm Sandy during last quarter.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.65 points,
or 0.30 percent, to 13,343.64. The S&P 500 lost 4.28
points, or 0.29 percent, to 1,457.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index
dropped 5.04 points, or 0.16 percent, to 3,093.78.
German data showed industrial orders fell more than forecast
in November due to a sharp drop in demand from abroad,
reinforcing concerns that Europe's largest economy may have
contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Monsanto Co shares rose 3.2 percent to $99.05 after
hitting a more than four-year high at $99.99. The world's
largest seed company raised its earnings outlook for fiscal 2013
and posted strong first-quarter results.
Education provider Apollo Group and Dow component
Alcoa Inc, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, round out
the start of earnings season after the closing bell.
Shares of restaurant-chain operator Yum Brands Inc
fell 4.6 percent to $64.78 a day after the KFC parent warned
sales in China, its largest market, shrank more than expected in
the fourth quarter.
London-traded Vodafone shares rose almost 2 percent
after its partner in U.S. joint venture Verizon Wireless said it
would be "feasible" to buy out the British group. U.S.-traded
Vodafone stock fell 1.5 percent.
Sears Holdings shares fell 1.4 percent to $42.31 a
day after the company said its chief executive will step down
for family health reasons. The U.S. retailer also reported a 1.8
percent decline in quarter-to-date sales at stores open at least
GameStop shares fell 7.1 percent to $23 after it
reported sales for the holiday season and cut its guidance.