US stocks slip as economic stats fall short

US stocks fell yesterday in one of the lightest volume days of the year, pulling back after the S&P 500’s record closing high last week and weaker-than-expected US manufacturing data.

Apple was the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100, falling 3.1 per cent to $428.91. Portfolio manager Will Danoff, whose $92bn Fidelity Contrafund is the largest active shareholder in Apple, cut the fund’s stake in the iPhone maker by 10 per cent during the first two months of 2013.

Data showed US factory activity grew at the slowest rate in three months in March, suggesting the economy lost some momentum at the end of the first quarter.

Recent data has pointed to a strengthening US economy in general, however, and has helped push stocks to record highs on both the Dow and S&P 500. The S&P 500 ended March with a record closing high, and posted its best quarterly performance in a year, while the Dow broke into new record territory in early March.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 5.69 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 14,572.85. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 7.02 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 1,562.17. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 28.35 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 3,239.17.

Volume was second-lowest of the year, with roughly 5.16bn shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT. That compares with the 2012 average daily closing volume of about 6.45bn.

For the year, the S&P is up 9.5 per cent, the Dow is up 11.2 per cent and the Nasdaq is up 7.3 per cent.

With the strong start to the year, many investors have been anticipating a pullback. Uncertainty over the economic future of Cyprus has weighed on stocks in recent sessions.