US stocks fall in broad decline on weak economic data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell in a broad decline on Monday, with the S&P 500 suffering its biggest one-day drop in more than a month, as economic data indicated weakness across the globe and the holiday shopping season got off to a tepid start.

The day's losses were broad, with eight of the ten primary S&P 500 sectors lower on the day. Industrials were the day's biggest decliners, pressured by manufacturing data that still pointed to sluggish demand.

Apple Inc was one of the biggest weights on the session, falling 3.2 per cent to US$115.07 in its biggest one-day decline since September. It tumbled shortly after the open in its largest one-minute volume in more than a month in what some traders deemed a "mini-flash crash."

Growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector slowed for a third straight month in November, decelerating to its most sluggish since January, according to Markit. The ISM report also showed a slowing pace of growth, though it was stronger than expected.

Manufacturing growth across Asia and Europe eased last month as heavy price cuts failed to revive demand. General Electric Co fell 1.8 per cent to US$26.02.

"We're watching growth struggle, especially outside the United States," said Mark Martiak, senior wealth strategist at Premier Wealth/First Allied Securities in New York. "Investors may be overly complacent."

Early holiday promotions and online shopping took a toll on in-store U.S. sales during the Thanksgiving weekend as shoppers on average spent 6.4 per cent less than they did a year earlier, according to data released Sunday by an industry group.

The S&P 500 retail index fell 1.5 per cent while Target Corp lost 1.7 per cent to US$72.75.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 51.44 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 17,776.9, the S&P 500 lost 14.12 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 2,053.44 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 64.28 points, or 1.34 per cent, to 4,727.35.

Despite Monday's decline, equities have been strong of late, with major indexes hitting multiple records last week and closing out a sixth straight week of gains.

Energy stocks were a bright spot on the day, up 0.7 per cent alongside a 4.8 per cent surge in crude oil, which rebounded from a massive drop of more than 10 per cent on Friday. The S&P energy index remains the weakest sector of 2014, down almost 10 percent.