Stocks Opened Lower after String of Gains

U.S. stocks started slightly lower on Monday after a slowdown in Japan’s growth gave investors another reason to worry about the health of the global economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 39 points, or 0.3%, to 13,169. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 3 points to 3,018. The S&P 500 fell 3.4 points, or 0.2%, to 1,403.

Japan’s economy grew at a slower-than-expected annual rate of 1.4 percent in April-June as Europe’s debt crisis and the strong yen weighed on the country’s powerhouse export sector. That was a sharp drop from a revised 5.5 percent in the previous quarter. The news comes on top a slew of reports out of Asia that point to a region losing momentum.

On Friday, China released weaker-than-expected trade data. Export growth in July plunged to just 1 percent from the previous month’s 11.3 percent, well below forecasts of about 5 percent.

Swiss private bank Julius Baer (BAER.VX) is to buy Bank of America’s (BAC) non-U.S. Merrill Lynch wealth manager, paying 860 million Swiss francs ($882 million) for the loss-making business to boost its assets managed by 40 percent and backing the deal with plans to raise 1.19 billion Swiss francs ($1.22 billion) in new capital.

Pfizer Inc. plans an initial public offering of about $100 million in shares of its animal health business to pay off debt.The long-anticipated offering by the world’s largest drugmaker will represent up to a 20 percent ownership stake in the animal health business, which it named Zoetis. Regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission do not detail the size of the offering or the anticipated share price.

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