Stocks Open Lower with Data, Earnings Due

U.S. stocks slipped at start on Monday as investors waited for factory orders data and another round of corporate earnings.The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately dropped 86.44 points, or 0.62%, to 13,923.35. The S&P 500 index shed 7.56 points, or 0.50%, to 1,505.61. The Nasdaq Composite declined 10.43 points, or 0.33%, to 3,168.33.

Ford Motor Co. expects to spend $5 billion this year shoring up its pension funds.The nation’s second-largest auto maker is one of a who’s who of U.S. companies pouring cash into pension plans now being battered by record low interest rates. Verizon Communications Inc. contributed $1.7 billion to its pension plan in the fourth quarter and Boeing Co. now reports “core earnings” to separate out pension expenses.

Humana Inc. (HUM) reported a fourth-quarter net profit of $192 million, or $1.19 a share, off from $199 million, or $1.20 a share, earned in the final three months of 2011 and matching the consensus estimate of analysts.  Quarterly revenue reached $9.56 billion from the prior year’s $9.06 billion.

Oracle (ORCL) is acquiring the network gear company Acme Packet (APKT) for about $2.1 billion. The software giant will be able to bolster the communications package it offers to customers with the acquisition, it said Monday. Acme makes phone and data network equipment that’s used by more than 1,900 service providers and enterprises around the world.

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