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US STOCKS-Wall Street rally pauses on global headwinds

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

* Investors consolidate after last week's gains

* Fitch cuts Italy credit rating after election impasse

* China data show uneven economic recovery

* Indexes down: Dow 0.01 pct, S&P 0.1 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street was little changed on Monday as Italy's credit downgrade and disappointing Chinese economic data gave investors a reason to pause after last week's rally that took the Dow to record highs.

Even with the slight decline, the S&P 500 index was only about 1 percent away from its all-time closing high. U.S. stocks have seen a strong gain in the first three months of the year and pullbacks have been short lived as investors look for an opportunity to buy.

"There's a lot of pent-up demand and people seem to be buying on weakness," said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc in Toledo, Ohio.

"I don't see this as anything negative from the standpoint of what the market's done throughout 2013 so far."

The S&P is up 8.7 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Dow has climbed nearly 10 percent. Markets have been cheered by signs of improvement in the U.S. economic recovery, including recent unexpected strength in the labor market.

But a number of potential roadblocks are not far from investors' minds, including worries about the euro zone debt crisis after Fitch downgraded Italy due to the country's political stalemate.

Data over the weekend from China pointed to an uneven recovery for the world's second-largest economy as inflation rose to a 10-month high in February and factory output and consumer spending were weaker than forecast.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 1.95 points, or 0.01 percent, at 14,395.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slipped 1.89 points, or 0.12 percent, to 1,549.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index was off 9.56 points, or 0.29 percent, to 3,234.81.

Dell Inc has agreed to give Carl Icahn a closer look at its books less than a week after the activist investor joined a growing chorus of opposition to founder Michael Dell's plan to take the world's No. 3 personal computer maker private. Dell shares were up 1.1 percent at $14.31, above the take-private offer price of $13.65.

Genworth Financial Inc shares jumped 6.4 percent to $10.46 following a report by Barron's that the mortgage insurer's stock could almost double in the next year, boosted by gains in mortgage and healthcare pricing.

Dick's Sporting Goods Inc slumped 7.9 percent to $46.61 after the retailer reported lower-than-expected fourth-quarter results and gave a disappointing forecast.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130311/us-stocks-wall-street-rally-pauses-global-headwinds