* Apple up after Topsy buy, UBS upgrade
* Cyber Monday sales appear strong
* Yum Brands' November China sales flat
* Indexes down: Dow 0.42 pct, S&P 0.31 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 3 U.S. stocks opened lower on
Tuesday, putting the S&P 500 on track for a third consecutive
decline, on concerns the Federal Reserve may begin to trim its
stimulus earlier than some had anticipated.
Stronger-than-expected data on manufacturing and
construction spending on Monday prompted speculation the Fed may
lean towards scaling back its stimulus of $85 billion in monthly
bond purchases, helping to send major indexes lower.
While virtually all market participants accept the central
bank will begin to trim the stimulus at some point, the timing
remains in question, with many analysts expecting the
announcement in March.
"It's not a question of if, it's a question of when and you
always have the question of how much of it is real and how much
of it is emotional in nature?" said Gordon Charlop, a managing
director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
After an eight-week run of gains for the S&P 500 that saw
the benchmark index hit a series of record highs, market
participants may also be engaged in some minor profit-taking.
"The near term trend seems to be to the downside, but that
being said I am not going to sit here and say we are sensing the
beginning of some sort of three- to five-percent correction or
something more significant than that," Charlop said.
The Fed has maintained it would begin to slow the program
when certain economic measures meet its targets. The economic
calendar is packed this week with data that may provide some
insight, culminating with Friday's November payrolls report.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 67.17 points or
0.42 percent, to 15,941.6, the S&P 500 lost 5.54 points
or 0.31 percent, to 1,795.36 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 7.881 points or 0.19 percent, to 4,037.379.
After a disappointing to start to the holiday shopping
season, U.S. online sales are expected to hit $2 billion on
"Cyber Monday," the highest since the data firm comScore began
tracking such information. Amazon.com Inc shares
slipped 1.2 percent to $387.78 while the S&P retail index
shed 0.5 percent.
Apple Inc has acquired social media search and
analytics startup Topsy, an unusual purchase for a
hardware-focused company that has made few forays into social
networking. UBS upgraded the iPhone maker to a "buy" rating.
Apple shares were up 1.8 percent to $560.90 as the biggest boost
to both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indexes.
Yum Brands Inc lost 3.2 percent to $75.20, the worst
performer on the S&P 500, after it said November sales at
established KFC restaurants in China, its top market, failed to
grow despite a successful half-priced chicken promotion, and it
forecast a return to earnings per share growth in 2014.
OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Inc surged 77 percent to
$24.76 after the company said Celgene Corp would
develop and market six of its anti-cancer stem cell experimental
drugs for an upfront payment of $155 million. Celgene shares
dipped 0.8 percent to $161.82.