* China trade balance unexpectedly swings into deficit
* Indexes off: Dow 0.21 pct, S&P 0.05 pct, Nasdaq 0.04 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
Merger and acquisition announcements, however, as well ascompany-specific news including on Facebook and Alexion Pharma,helped keep the S&P 500 and Nasdaq from bigger losses.
China's exports unexpectedly tumbled 18.1 percent inFebruary, against expectations for a 6.8 percent rise, swingingthe trade balance into deficit and adding to fears of a slowdownin the world's second-largest economy.
"There's reasons to be a little cautious on the market.There's a little bit of profit-taking," said Paul Zemsky, headof asset allocation at ING Investment Management in New York.
"But the numbers are not persuasive enough to make me wantto sell U.S. stocks," he said. "The impact (of China) would haveto go beyond what we already expect from emerging markets."
Boeing Co shares lost 1.3 percent to $126.89 onanother production setback for the company's newest jet, as"hairline cracks" were discovered in the wings of about forty787 Dreamliners. The weekend disappearance andpresumed crash of a Malaysian airliner made by Boeing wasanother headwind for the stock.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 34.04 points or0.21 percent, to 16,418.68, the S&P 500 lost 0.87 pointsor 0.05 percent, to 1,877.17 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.775 points or 0.04 percent, to 4,334.448.
The S&P 500 had closed at a record of 1,878.04 on Friday.
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold lost 2.5 percent to$31.38 as signs of a slowing China sent London copper to a morethan eight-month low.
Facebook shares hit an intraday record of $72.15after UBS raised its price target on the online social mediagiant to $90, from $72. They closed up 3.2 percent at $72.03.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NasdaqGS: ALXN - news) jumped 7.1 percent to $180after it raised its profit and sales forecasts for the year. TheFrench government agreed to raise reimbursement payments for thecompany's treatment for two rare blood disorders.
Employees of Freescale Semiconductor on thedisappeared Malaysia Airlines flight were doingsophisticated work at the U.S. chipmaker, a company spokesmansaid on Sunday. They were part of a broad push to make Freescalemore efficient and cost effective. Freescale shares fell 1.3percent to $23.09.
Chiquita Brands and Irish rival Fyffes (Other OTC: FYFFF - news) ,Europe's largest distributor, struck an all-stock merger deal tocreate the world's biggest banana supplier. Chiquita sharesjumped 10.7 percent to $12.
United Rentals Inc (NYSE: URI - news) gained 3.8 percent to $91.82. Theworld's largest equipment rental company said it agreed to buyprivately-held National Pump, the second-largest specialty pumprental company in North America, for $780 million.
"Deals in general show people are looking for growth andgood ideas. They're taking shares out of the market and it showsthere's confidence in investors' minds," said ING's Zemsky.
FMC Corp (NYSE: FMC - news) rose 6.7 percent to $83.10. The chemicalsmanufacturer said it would split into two companies, onecomprising its minerals business and the other its agricultural,health and nutrition businesses.
Traders kept checks on Ukraine. Unidentified armed men firedin the air as they moved into a Ukrainian naval post in Crimeaon Monday in the latest confrontation since Russian militarygroups seized control of the Black Sea peninsula. Russia saidthe United States had spurned an invitation to hold new talks onresolving the crisis.
About 6 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, accordingto data from BATS Global Markets, below the daily average ofabout 6.98 billion so far this month.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the New York StockExchange by a ratio of less than 4 to 3. On Nasdaq, seven issuesfell for every six that rose.
- USA News