Stocks Decline after China Trims Outlook

U.S. stocks fell early on Monday after China reduced its economic growth outlook, with natural-resource companies leading the fall. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately shed 35.95 points to 12,941.62. The S&P 500 Index declined 4.98 points to 1,364.65. The Nasdaq Composite fell 8.13 points to 2,968.06.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao cut his nation’s 2012 growth target to an eight-year low of 7.5 percent and made boosting consumer demand the year’s first priority as Beijing looks to wean the economy off its reliance on external demand and foreign capital.

Shares in BP rose over 2 percent on Monday after the oil giant reached a settlement with businesses and individuals impacted by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill worth an estimated $7.8 billion.

Gold slipped on Monday as concerns over Greece’s progress on completing a debt restructuring deal and poor euro zone data lifted the dollar versus the euro. Spot gold hit a low of $1,694.24 an ounce and was down 0.5 percent at $1,702.86 an ounce at 1259 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down $5.30 an ounce at $1,704.50.

Oil prices hovered below $107 a barrel Monday in Asia as simmering tensions over Iran’s nuclear program kept crude near 10-month highs.  Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 7 cents to $106.77 at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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