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Stocks Finish Mixed in Slow Session

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks finished mixed Monday as disappointing data on Japan's economic growth triggered some mild profit-taking after five weeks of gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 38 points, or 0.29%, to settle at 13,169. The blue-chip index ranged between 13,113 and 13,205 on the day and is now up 7.8% so far in 2012.

Twenty-five of the Dow's 30 components closed in the red, led by Alcoa (AA), Cisco (CSCO) and du Pont (DD).

Shares of Coca-Cola (KO) slipped as well after Goldman Sachs downgraded shares of the soft drink giant to neutral from buy, citing issues such as weaker growth and growing competitive pressures.

Blue chips in positive territory included American Express (AXP), Kraft Foods (KFT) and Walt Disney (DIS).

The S&P 500 lost 2 points, or 0.13%, at 1404, snapping a six-session winning streak.

The Nasdaq managed to tack on nearly 2 points, or 0.05%, to finish at 3022.52.

The weakest sectors were basic materials, conglomerates and energy. Consumer cyclicals were the only sector to close higher.

Volume was light, totaling just 2.49 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.35 billion on the Nasdaq. Losers outpaced winners by a less than 1.5-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq and a less than 2-to-1 ratio on the Big Board.

Data showed that Japan's economy expanded at a slower-than-expected annual rate of 1.4% in the April-June quarter as the country's exports suffered under the strong yen and European debt crisis. That was a significant decline from a revised 5.5% the prior quarter and missed the median forecast of 2.5%, according to Reuters, and added to growing evidence of a stalling global economy.

"The pace of growth is likely to slow over the rest of the year," warned Kiyoko Katahira, an economist at Société Générale.

On Friday, the markets were hit by weaker-than-expected China trade data, though economists expected that this and a batch of other weak reports from the country meant that it was imminent that Beijing would carry out a 50-basis-point cut in its reserve ratio requirement.

That said, "we do not expect the outgoing government to jump to remedy slow domestic demand with fiscal stimulus," noted Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics. "If needed, this task will be left to incoming leaders."

Bank of America has slashed its full-year growth projection for China to 7.7% from 8%.
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