* Yum Brands down on China food safety, McDonald's slips
* EMC jumps on report of activist investor stake
* Indexes down: Dow 0.44 pct, S&P 0.44 pct, Nasdaq 0.44 pct
(Updates prices, adds Allergan, Obama statement on Ukraine)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, July 21 U.S. stocks fell on Monday,
following the sharpest moves in indexes in the past three months
during the two previous sessions, as developments in Ukraine and
Gaza continue to garner investor focus.
Israeli jets, tanks and artillery pounded Gaza again as the
death toll from a two-week conflict topped 500 amid growing
international calls for a ceasefire. Fighters from Hamas, which
controls Gaza, have repeatedly tried to infiltrate Israel over
the past week through hidden tunnels.
Fighting flared in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk as
investigators began to inspect the bodies of victims of a
Malaysia Airlines jet shot down last week. The United States and
its allies have pointed the finger at pro-Russian rebels and at
Moscow itself over the downing of the plane with 298 people
aboard. Russia has denied involvement and blamed the Ukrainian
The United States and the EU last week announced further
economic sanctions against Russian interests before the jet was
shot down, and sanctions could become even more stringent.
However, the effect on the U.S. or the global economy continues
to be seen as limited.
The situations in Gaza and Ukraine "are both quite serious,
but at this point unlikely to derail the U.S. economy," said
Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in
Jersey City, New Jersey.
"Earnings have been good and there's the Fed's continued
support. Investors are trying to balance out the support for the
U.S. market with the risks the geopolitical tension brings."
U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that Russia and
President Vladimir Putin have direct responsibility to compel
separatists to cooperate with an investigation into the plane
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 75.91 points or
0.44 percent, to 17,024.27, the S&P 500 lost 8.75 points
or 0.44 percent, to 1,969.47 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 19.54 points or 0.44 percent, to 4,412.60.
The S&P had sold of Thursday after news the Malaysian jet
was shot down, falling 1 percent for the first time since April
10. On Friday, the index then rose more than 1 percent for the
first time since April 16.
On Thursday, the CBOE Volatility Index had jumped 32
percent before retreating 17 percent on Friday. On Monday, it
rose 10 percent but at 13.3 remains well below its historical
average of 20.
"When you have interest rates as low as they are it really
dampens stock market volatility tremendously," Meckler said. "It
takes very significant, serious international activity to change
that volatility level."
EMC Corp rose 3.8 percent to $28 after Elliott
Management Corp acquired a $1 billion stake. The activist
investor plans to push the data storage equipment maker to spin
off its majority-owned VMware Inc unit, the Wall Street
Journal reported. VMWare shares fell 0.8 percent to
McDonald's and Yum Brands fell 1 percent and
3.7 percent respectively as they face a new food safety scare in
China, denting efforts to shore up reputations hurt by a 2012
Allergan rose 1.3 percent to $169.56. It announced
1,500 jobs cuts included in a $475 million restructuring to
boost profits over six years - part of a plan to fight off a
hostile bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and