US stocks ease after record-smashing run as China, Europe dampen enthusiasm

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks opened modestly lower on Monday after the Dow's record-breaking run last week, as data from China and Europe highlighted the continued struggle of the world's economic powers.

Thirty minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down just 0.59 points at 14,396.48. The broader S&P 500 fell 0.07 per cent to 1,550.09, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped 0.18 per cent to 3,238.52.

"The early weakness, which isn't all that weak, probably has more to do than anything else with an expectation that there will be some profit-taking after last week's 2.2 per cent gain," said Mr Patrick O'Hare of

New European data on fourth quarter 2012 growth confirmed the continuing recession, though Greece's contraction came in less severe than earlier estimated.

In China, inflation hit a 10-month high of 3.2 per cent last month, while growth in industrial output and retail sales slowed, raising concerns that the pick-up in the world's second largest economy may be slowing and that the government could unveil measures to temper prices.