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4:08 PM, Apr 30, 2012 --

U.S. stocks fell Monday, with the benchmark indexes positioned for monthly declines after a soft reading on manufacturing activity in Dallas and Chicago resurrected concerns over the state of America's economy. Prior to the release of U.S. manufacturing data, stocks were feeling downward pressure in reaction to news that Spain's economy has slipped into recession.

Stocks started lower in Monday's pre-market trade after the Spanish government said its economy contracted 0.3% during the first three months of 2012, the second straight quarter Europe's fourth largest economy shrank. Standard & Poor's late last week downgraded Spain's government debt to just three notches above junk and lowered its ratings for 11 Spanish banks.

Closer to home, household income in the United States climbed during March although consumers chose to save much of the extra cash rather than spending it and boosting the U.S. economy. Consumer income rose 0.4% last month, the Commerce Department said. Analysts had expected a 0.3% rise, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago said business activity in the Midwest slowed during April, with the ISM-Chicago index falling from a 62.2 reading last month to a 56.2 reading for April, its lowest since November 2009. General business activity also fell in the southwestern U.S. during April, sliding to -3.4 reading this month from 10.8 in March, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank manufacturing index. Analysts were expecting the index to remain positive with an 8.0 reading, according to Bloomberg News.

Another survey showed hiring by U.S. small businesses may have slowed considerably last month with firms adding only 40,000 new jobs, down from 75,000 hires in March, according to payrolls processing firm Intuit. The government's April employment report is due on Friday with most experts expecting employers to have increased payrolls by 170,000, according to a Reuters survey.

In company news, shares of Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) soared after Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) said it was investing $300 million in BKS' Nook division in a deal that also ended a patent fight between the two firms. MSFT will include Nook applications with its upcoming release of the Windows 8 operating system and gains a 17.8% stake in the still unnamed division, which the firms said could be separated into a stand-alone entity, either through a stock offering, sale or some other type of deal.

Sunoco (NYSE:SUN) shares jumped after the company agreed to be bought by Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE:ETP), a natural gas pipeline company, for $5.3 billion.

Shares of Books-A-Million (NASDAQ:BAMM) rallied after the family of the company's executive chairmen made a non-binding proposal to acquire all of the outstanding publicly-held shares of the common stock of the company. The Anderson family currently directly or indirectly controls shares of stock representing, in the aggregate, approximately 53% of the common stock of the company. According to the proposal, public shareholders would receive $3.05 per share in cash. The proposal values the total equity of the company at approximately $48.8 million.

Accretive Health (NYSE:AH) climbed after the company filed a motion to dismiss the Minnesota Attorney General's Complaint in federal district court in Minnesota. The motion denies the Attorney General's claims and requests that the Court dismiss the complaint, in its entirety, with prejudice. On April 25, Minnesota's Attorney General Lori Swanson announced the company would be sued for violations of U.S. and state patient privacy and debt collection laws.

Commodities ended lower. Gold futures declined 60 cents, or less than 0.1%, to $1,664.20 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude-oil futures felt the pressure of a rising dollar, and concerns over the euro zone economies, and as a result, crude for June delivery fell six cents, or 0.1%, to end at $104.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Here's where the markets stood at end-of-day:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average down 14.68 (-0.11%) to 13,213.63
  • S&P 500 down 5.45 (-0.39%) to 1,397.91
  • Nasdaq Composite Index down 22.84 (-0.74%) to 3,046.36

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

  • Nikkei 225 down 0.43%
  • Hang Seng Index up 1.70%
  • China Shanghai Composite Index down 0.35%
  • FTSE 100 down 0.19%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) WCRX, Confirms talks on "strategic alternatives," including possible buy-out.

(+) HAR, Reports EPS of $0.74 in March quarter, ex items, topping $0.67 in Street view.

(+) DMD, Reportedly rejects going-private offer by Thomas H. Lee Partners.

(+) TGE, Earnings easily top analyst estimates.

(+) VRNG, after hedge fund 18 Partners discloses in an SEC filing it owns a 5.09% stake in VRNG.

(+) CLNT, receives large order.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) TEN, Q1 earnings decline, yoy.

(-) NSP, Reported better-than-expected quarterly profit.

(-) NGD, Chilean Supreme Court temporarily suspends approval of environmental permit for El Morro Project.

Source: Market Wrap: Spain, Manufacturing Data Slow Stocks Down