Stocks Slide on Disappointing Data

U.S. stocks closed slightly lower on Monday, as negative data from China, Europe and the U.S. weighed on markets across the board. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 14.76 points, or 0.11%, at 12,962.81. The S&P 500 fell 5.30 points, or 0.39%, to 1,364.33. The Nasdaq Composite lost 25.71 points, or 0.86%, to 2,950.48.

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.

In Europe, a reading on business activity contracted more than expected in February. In addition, there were concerns the participation rate of Greece’s private creditors in the voluntary debt-restructuring deal needed for Greece to receive bailout funds will be too low, which in effect could trigger a default.

U.S. factory orders in January slumped 1% to $462.6 billion, the Commerce Department said Monday. December’s gain was upwardly revised to show 1.4% growth from an initially reported 1.1% gain.

The Institute for Supply Management’s nonmanufacturing index rose to 57.3% in February from 56.8% in January. Its employment index slipped to 55.7% from 57.4% and its price index, which measures inflation, jumped to 68.4% from 63.5% in the prior month.

Oil futures veered between small gains and losses Monday. Crude oil for April delivery (NMN:CLJ2)  advanced 13 cents, or 0.1%, to $106.82 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It traded as low as $105.50 a barrel and as high as $107.42 a barrel.

Yahoo Inc’s new chief executive is preparing a significant restructuring of the Internet company, including layoffs that could cut thousands of employees from its payroll, according to a technology blog.

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