By Joe Wallace 

U.S. stocks inched lower Monday at the start of a busy week of corporate earnings and economic data.

Investors said they were positioning for the start of earnings season, as well as data that will help to gauge whether a coming burst of inflation will prove transitory.

Among the reports expected this week are those from JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo -- and companies ranging from Delta Air Lines to PepsiCo to UnitedHealth Group. Meanwhile, inflation data due on Tuesday are expected to show consumer prices picked up in March.

"All of these things need to deliver in quite a Goldilocks manner for the current gains to remain intact," said Edward Park, chief investment officer at U.K. investment firm Brooks Macdonald.

Shares of technology giants have taken back control of the rally in U.S. stocks over the past month, helping to push major indexes to a series of records. Some investors say they still see reason to be cautious, given major economies such as the European Union and India have been grappling with fresh coronavirus outbreaks.

There is "a bit of a question mark in markets just saying: We're seeing strong gains; is this quite right?" Mr. Park said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 55.20 points, or 0.2%, to 33745.40, backing away from Friday's record close. The S&P 500 finished down 0.81 point, or less than 0.1%, to 4127.99 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 50.19 points, or 0.4%, to 13850.00.

Shares of Nuance Communications jumped $7.27, or 16%, to $52.85 after Microsoft said it agreed to acquire the speech-recognition firm for $19.7 billion.

Signet Jewelers rose $4.84, or 7.9%, to $65.92 after raising its guidance for the first quarter and the full year, citing tailwinds from consumers receiving stimulus checks and tax refunds.

American depository receipts for Alibaba Group Holding rose $20.70, or 9.3%, to $244.01 after companies founded by billionaire Jack Ma announced changes to operations and structure to placate regulators.

Alibaba said Monday it would invest in measures to support merchants on its platform, two days after China's antitrust regulator imposed a record fine. Later on Monday, financial-technology giant Ant Group said it would apply to become a financial holding company overseen by China's central bank.

Government bonds weakened. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note ticked up to 1.674% from 1.664% Friday. Yields, which move in the opposite direction to bond prices, have fallen back from their closing high of 1.749% in late March, but are still up from a low of 0.915% in early January.

U.S. crude oil snapped a two-day losing streak, ending up 38 cents, or 0.6%, to $59.70 a barrel. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is due to release a regular forecast of global supply and demand of oil Tuesday.

In overseas markets, the Stoxx Europe 600 edged down 0.5%, pressured by declines in shares of travel & leisure companies. Stocks pulled back in major Asian markets. China's Shanghai Composite fell 1.1%, and Japan's Nikkei 225 lost 0.8%.

Akane Otani contributed to this article.

Write to Joe Wallace at Joe.Wallace@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 12, 2021 16:39 ET (20:39 GMT)

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