* S&P 500 coming off biggest weekly decline since June
* Volume seen light on Veterans Day with bond market closed
* Titanium Metals, Jefferies Group soar on merger deals
* Dow off 0.2 pct, S&P off 0.2 pct, Nasdaq down 0.2 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Nov 12 U.S. stocks slipped on Monday,
giving up modest gains in late morning trade on lingering
worries about the upcoming debate on the fiscal cliff.
Adding to concerns, Barclays cut its year-end target for the
S&P 500 to 1,325 and cited fiscal cliff issues as a reason.
The S&P 500 dropped 2.4 percent last week, the worst week
for the benchmark index since June. It closed below its 200-day
moving average for the first time in five months, and an
extended run under that level could signal further losses ahead.
Trading volume is expected to be light, with the U.S. bond
market and government offices closed on Monday for the Veterans
Last week's weakness was partly propelled by concerns about
whether there will be a timely solution to avoid the fiscal
cliff, a combination of government spending cuts and tax
increases set to go into effect early next year unless Congress
acts to change the law before then. Though most consider it
unlikely that a deal will not be reached, analysts fear going
over the cliff could push the economy back into recession.
"Hopefully, we'll be ready for the barrage of U.S. political
soundbites and opinions on how to come to an agreement between
Democrats and Republicans," said Peter Boockvar, managing
director at Miller Tabak & Co, in New York.
"It may very well be the sole driver of stock performance
into year-end with the economic consequences of such a deal
being a focus only beginning in 2013."
The S&P 500 is still up about 10 percent for 2012, though
recent months have eroded those gains. The Nasdaq has fallen for
five straight weeks.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 27.76
points, or 0.22 percent, at 12,787.63. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 2.06 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,377.79.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 6.42 points, or 0.22
percent, at 2,898.45.
Apple Inc shares fell 0.6 percent to $543.93 after
rising earlier on a global patent settlement with HTC Corp
, as well as a 10-year licensing agreement. Apple's
stock has been under pressure recently, dropping more than 20
percent from its 2012 high to enter bear market territory.
But some major acquisition news gave investors some reasons
for optimism on Monday. Precision Castparts Corp offered
to buy Titanium Metals Corp for $2.9 billion, while
Leucadia National Corp agreed to buy investment bank
Jefferies Group for $3.6 billion.
Shares of Titanium surged 42.3 percent to $16.46 while
Jefferies climbed 12.8 percent to $16.09. Precision rose 5.6
percent to $181. In contrast, Leucadia fell 4.6 percent to
Overseas, a report over the weekend showed China's export
growth climbed to a five-month high, beating expectations and
adding to recent data suggesting the country's seven straight
quarters of slowing economic growth have ended.
In addition, the Greek parliament on Sunday approved an
austerity budget for next year, a necessary step to unblock a
new tranche of credit from the European Union and International
Monetary Fund before the government runs out of cash. Still,
investors remain concerned about whether the EU and IMF will
agree to send the next tranche.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Friday, of the 449
companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 63.3
percent have topped expectations. But only 38.2 percent of
companies have topped revenue expectations - well below the 62
percent average since 2002.