US stocks fall after weak industrial data

US stocks fell in early trade Friday after the Federal Reserve reported an unexpected decline in the nation's industrial production in October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 17.80 points (0.14 percent) at 12,524.58 after an hour of trade (1530 GMT).

The broad-market S&P 500 dropped 2.47 points (0.18 percent) to 1,350.86, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 5.86 (0.21 percent) at 2,831.07.

The Fed reported US industrial output fell 0.4 percent in October largely due to the impact of the devastating superstorm Sandy, which blasted the industry-heavy northeast at the end of the month. Most analysts expected an increase of 0.1 percent.

The data offset a Wall Street Journal report that White House officials are in advanced internal talks about a plan to replace the massive "fiscal cliff" spending cuts due in January.

"Wall Street remains wary ahead of today's inaugural fiscal cliff negotiations between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders," said Karee Venema at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

Among stocks in focus, computer maker Dell plunged 6.6 percent after missing analysts' earnings expectations.

Nike rose 0.9 percent after announcing the sale of Cole Haan to investment fund Apax Partners for $570 million. On Thursday, Nike announced a two-for-one stock split and a dividend increase.

FedEx fell 1.1 percent and United Parcel Service slipped 0.3 percent after the package delivery giants said they were being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission in a probe of prescription medication sales by online pharmacies.

The pressure on Dow member Walmart continued as the retailer faces massive strikes ahead of and on next week's Black Friday, the crucial kick-off of the year-end holiday shopping season.

Walmart, which lost 3.7 percent Thursday on disappointing revenues, fell 0.8 percent.

On the Nasdaq, heavyweight Apple lost 1.7 percent.

On Thursday, stocks ended slightly lower in volatile, pulled down in part by Walmart's disappointing earnings. The Dow lost 0.23 percent.

Bond prices were unchanged from late Thursday.

The 10-year US Treasury yield stood at 1.59 percent, and the 30-year was at 2.72 percent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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