US STOCKS-S&P 500 on track for first 2-day losing streak in month

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 15, 2013 16:20 hrs

* China growth data drags on commodity prices

* Gold slumps to 2-year low below $1,400 per ounce

* Dish Network offers $25.5 billion for Sprint

* Indexes off: Dow 0.7 pct, S&P 0.9 pct, Nasdaq 1 pct

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, April 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell for a second straight session on Monday, pressured by weaker-than-expected growth figures in China that sparked a broad selloff across markets, including oil and other commodities.

Among the biggest declining S&P groups, the energy sector index was off 2.7 percent and the materials sector index was down 2.7 percent.

"Liquidation is under way across equities and commodities, sparked by fears that the global economy is set to slow," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

The Chinese data weighed heavily on oil, with U.S. crude futures down 2.9 percent to $88.44. Chevron lost 2.1 percent to $117.46 and was one of the biggest drags on the Dow.

The SPDR Gold Shares ETF lost more than 7 percent to $133.20 as gold prices slumped to a 2-year low below $1,400 per ounce.

Among the most active mining stocks, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc fell 7 percent to $29.69 while Newmont Mining was off 4.9 percent to $34.58. Freeport was also downgraded to "sell" from "neutral" by Citigroup.

The PHLX Gold/Silver index tumbled nearly 9 percent and the PHLX oil service sector index fell nearly 4 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 104.17 points, or 0.70 percent, at 14,760.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 14.31 points, or 0.90 percent, at 1,574.54. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 34.87 points, or 1.06 percent, at 3,260.08.

A softer pace of growth in New York state manufacturing added to recent signs the global economy may be slowing.

The market had been very resilient in its run-up to record highs last week. But Monday's decline put the broad S&P 500 index on track for its first two-day losing streak in a month.

Data showed China's annual rate of growth eased back to 7.7 percent from the 7.9 percent of the previous quarter and below economists' forecast for an 8.0 percent expansion.

Hurting home building stocks, an industry report showed U.S. homebuilder sentiment waned for the third month in a row in April.

On a positive note, Citigroup shares advanced 1.9 percent to $45.66 after reporting a higher-than-expected 31 percent rise in first-quarter profit.

Sprint Nextel Corp shares jumped 15.8 percent to $7.20 after Dish Network Corp, the No. 2 U.S. satellite television provider, offered to buy Sprint for $25.5 billion in cash and stock. The offer could thwart the proposed acquisition of Sprint by Japan's SoftBank Corp.

Dish Network shares fell 7.4 percent to $34.84.

Genetic testing equipment maker Life Technologies Corp has agreed to a $13.6 billion cash buyout by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, in one of the year's biggest corporate takeovers. Life Technologies shares climbed 7.7 percent to $73.25 and Thermo Fisher advanced 2.3 percent to $81.42.

Earnings season heats up this week, with 74 companies in the S&P 500 scheduled to report, including American Express Co, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Google Inc.

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