Stocks off to a weak start, continuing a decline

STEVE ROTHWELL AP Markets Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market fell on Monday, led by declines in financial companies and specialty retailers. Technology stocks stemmed their losses after a slump last week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,856 as of 11:14 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 98 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,312. The Nasdaq fell 19 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,128.

USED CAR SALES: CarMax slipped $1.54, or 3.4 percent, to $44.04 after the company said late Friday that its fourth-quarter earnings fell 7 percent. Net income declined as the effects of an accounting correction offset higher demand for its vehicles. The company's revenue also fell short of financial analysts' expectations.

TECH REBOUND: Technology and biotechnology stocks halted their declines from Friday. Among the reviving stocks was Netflix, which rose $4.69, or 1.3 percent, to $342.35 after falling almost 5 percent on Friday. Facebook, which also slumped Friday, gained 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $57.08. Biotechnology stocks also recovered.

PHARMA BUY: Questcor Pharmaceuticals jumped $11.54, or 17 percent, or $79.37 after Mallinckrodt said it was acquiring the company for a combination of stock and cash valued at about $5.2 billion.

FIRST-QUARTER EARNINGS: Investors will start focusing on the outlook for corporate earnings this week, as companies begin to report their first-quarter results. Aluminum maker Alcoa, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo are reporting. Companies are expected to report first-quarter earnings growth of 0.45 percent over last year's first quarter. That rate of growth, however, is down from 8 percent in the fourth quarter, according to S&P Capital IQ.

THE QUOTE: "The expectations are incredibly low, largely due to the impact of winter weather" said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones.

BARBIE WOES: Mattel dropped $1.05, or 2.66 percent, to $38.35 after analysts at BMO Capital cut their outlook for the company. They cited lower demand for some of the toymaker's key products, like Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars. The company has also exhausted its cost-savings opportunities.

P&G PAYOUT: Procter & Gamble edged up following news that the maker of Tide detergent would raise its quarterly dividend by 4 cents to 64 cents. P&G rose 62 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $80.40.

BORROWING: Later Monday, the Federal Reserve will release a report on how much consumers borrowed in February. The forecast is that borrowing rose slightly to $14 billion, according to FactSet. Some economists consider an increase in borrowing an encouraging sign that people are more confident and willing to take on debt.

FED AHEAD: The U.S. Federal Reserve will release minutes on Wednesday from its meeting in mid-March. Investors will be parsing the minutes from that two-day gathering to try to anticipate the Fed's next moves on interest rates, and its huge bond-buying program. That buying is being scaled back.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.70 percent from 2.72 percent late Friday. The price of crude oil was unchanged at $101.18 a barrel. Gold fell $3.90, or 0.3 percent, to $1,299.70 an ounce.