— NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged lower on Wall Street Monday morning after an industry group reported that U.S. manufacturing growth cooled in March and was weaker than economists had forecast.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 26 points, or 0.2 percent, at 14,553 as of 11:56 a.m. EDT. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped eight points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,561. The Nasdaq composite fell 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,245.
U.S. manufacturing kept growing for a fourth straight month in March, but at a slower rate, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The ISM's manufacturing index dropped to 51.3 from 54.2 in February. Economists polled by the data provider FactSet had expected the index to come in at 54.
The S&P 500 ended the first quarter last week by closing at an all-time high of 1,569.19, surpassing its previous record close of 1,565.15 set on Oct. 9, 2007. The index has recaptured all of its losses from the financial crisis and the Great Recession and has gained 9.4 percent since the start of the year and the Dow is 11 percent higher.
As stocks have climbed this year, so have investor expectations for economic reports, said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade.
"The numbers have to be outstanding in order to drive the market higher," said Kinahan. "It's a different mindset when we're at these levels."
Industrial companies led declines for the S&P 500, dropping 1 percent. 3M, which makes Post-it notes, industrial products and construction materials, fell 66 cents to $105.6. Caterpillar, a maker of construction and mining equipment, dropped $1.23 to $85.73.
Gains for stocks this year have been driven by optimism that the housing market is recovering and employers and starting to hire again. Strong company earnings and continuing stimulus from the Federal Reserve have also increased demand for stocks.