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US STOCKS-Wall St pulls back after recent gain; data disappoints

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 19:50 hrs

* Factory orders hint of U.S. economy weakness

* CBOE Volatility index up more than 10 pct as investors turn cautious

* Spanish and Italian political uncertainty spark concerns

* Indexes off: Dow 0.9 pct; S&P 1 pct; Nasdaq 1.3 pct

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Feb 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks dropped on Monday, pulling back from gains in the prior session that left the S&P 500 at a five-year high and the Dow above 14,000, as factory orders data disappointed and worries about the euro zone crisis resurfaced.

The S&P 500 was on track for its biggest daily percentage decline since Dec. 28. Chevron and Wal-Mart were among the biggest drags on the Dow after analyst downgrades.

"The market is due for a pullback. That's not really a surprise. I think people are looking for an excuse to make sales," said Michael James, senior trader at Wedbush Morgan in Los Angeles.

Spanish and Italian bond yields rose, renewing worries about the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis. Spain's prime minister faced calls to resign over a corruption scandal, while a probe of alleged misconduct involving an Italian bank was expected to widen three weeks before a national election.

Data from the Commerce Department showed overall factory orders for December were below economists' expectations.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 120.19 points, or 0.86 percent, at 13,889.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 14.65 points, or 0.97 percent, at 1,498.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 40.53 points, or 1.27 percent, at 3,138.57.

The benchmark S&P 500 rose on Friday, leaving it roughly 60 points away from its all-time intraday high of 1,576.09, while the Dow's march above 14,000 was the highest for the index since October 2007.

The S&P index is up 5.5 percent for the year, with nearly half of the gains coming after U.S. legislators temporarily sidestepped the "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts.

The CBOE Volatility index VIX, Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, jumped more than 10 percent to 14.48 by afternoon trade.

Chevron Corp dipped 0.9 percent to $115.50 after UBS cut its rating to neutral, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc shed 1.1 percent to $69.69 after JP Morgan lowered its rating on the world's largest retailer and reduced its price target.

Shares of household products company Clorox rose 1.3 percent to $80.23 after quarterly profit beat analysts' estimates as a severe flu season boosted sales of disinfecting wipes.

According to Thomson Reuters data, of the 256 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Monday morning, 68.4 percent have reported earnings above analyst expectations compared with the 62 percent average since 1994 and the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are expected to rise 4.4 percent, according to the data. That estimate is above the 1.9 percent forecast at the start of earnings season, but well below the 9.9 percent fourth-quarter earnings forecast on Oct. 1.

Herbalife Ltd slumped 2.5 percent to $34.16 after the New York Post newspaper reported the seller of weight loss products is facing a probe by the Federal Trade Commission.




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