Dow retreats slightly as stock-market investors ready for first-quarter earnings; Microsoft to buy Nuance in $16 billion deal

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U.S. stock benchmarks fell slightly early Monday as investors positioned for the start of earnings season, and braced for inflation data that could signal whether a surge in rising prices is in the works or set to be transitory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1% to around 33,754, the S&P 500 index retreated 0.1% at 4,123, while the Nasdaq Composite Index was trading 0.3% lower at 13,861. In corporate news, shares of Nuance Communications jumped in early trading after Microsoft Corp announced it will buy the speech-recognition company in a $16 billion deal. Markets also were parsing comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell who said the economy “seems to be at an inflection point,” with strong growth coming “right now” and the weakness caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the rearview mirror. His comments were from a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday.

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