US STOCKS-Wall Street slips with earnings season in view

Mon Apr 8, 2013 10:21am EDT

* Wall St extends pullback after worst week of the year

* Earnings, economic worries offset monetary stimulus

* Lufkin Industries up 37 pct planned purchase by GE

* Indexes down: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 0.2, Nasdaq 0.1 pct

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - Wall Street waned on Monday as investors faced the prospect of a lackluster corporate earnings season and an economy that could be hitting a slow patch.

The early pullback extended Friday's declines that had pushed the market into its worst week for the year. Defensive shares led the downside move on Monday, including the telecommunications sector, which lost 1 percent.

Earnings forecasts have been scaled back heading into first-quarter reports. S&P 500 earnings are expected to have risen just 1.6 percent from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data, down from a 4.3 percent forecast in January.

Stocks have rallied strongly this year with major indexes hitting record highs, helped in part by the Federal Reserve's stimulus program. The S&P 500 is up nearly 9 percent for the year so far, while the Dow has gained just under 11 percent.

"It's a little easier to pull the trigger and take some profits when you're on the fringe of an earnings season that might not be as good as what the stock market has indicated with a phenomenal first quarter," said Alan Lancz, president at Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc in Toledo, Ohio.

A worse-than-expected jobs report on Friday also added to fears that the pace of economic growth could be softening after generally upbeat data at the start of the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 44.00 points, or 0.30 percent, to 14,521.25. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was off 2.75 points, or 0.18 percent, to 1,550.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 3.34 points, or 0.10 percent, to 3,200.52.

But loose monetary policy from central banks around the world still makes equities attractive to investors and pullbacks could be used as buying opportunities, analysts said.

The Bank of Japan started its bond purchases after it announced last week it will inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy in less than two years.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will give a speech later on Monday after markets are closed. Investors have been watching for any insight into the Fed's thinking on how long the central bank will keep its asset purchase program in place as it tries to boost the economic recovery.

General Electric Co said it will buy oilfield services provider Lufkin Industries Inc for about $3.3 billion, sending Lufkin shares up 38 percent to $88.20. GE was off 0.2 percent at $22.89.

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