The U.S. stock market edged lower in morning trading Monday as investors weighed disappointing economic news from China and Japan.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell four points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,874 in the first half-hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 60 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,392. The Nasdaq composite lost seven points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,329.
CHINA WORRIES: China's exports slumped 18 percent in February, reinforcing fears about the outlook for the world's second-largest economy after the United States. Meanwhile, Japan, the world's third-largest economy, reported a record current account deficit for January and lowered its economic growth estimate for the October-December quarter to 0.7 percent from 1 percent.
TOP BANANA: Chiquita agreed to combine with Dublin-based Fyffes to become the world's top banana company. The stock-for-stock transaction announced Monday creates a global banana and fresh produce company with $4.6 billion in annual revenues. Chiquita rose $1.48, or 13.7 percent, to $12.32.
SEPARATE WAYS: Chemical company FMC plans to separate into two publicly traded companies. The "New FMC" will include the agricultural and health and nutrition businesses, while "FMC Minerals" will include the current minerals segment that houses the alkali chemicals and lithium businesses. FMC $5.20, or 6.7 percent, to $83.10.
FROZEN ARCHES: McDonald's fell 32 cents to $95.18. The company said that a key sales metric dropped 1.4 percent in the U.S. last month, which McDonald's attributed to severe winter weather. The world's largest hamburger chain was also hindered by difficult winter weather conditions in January.
EUROPE: The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was barely changed. Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent. The CAC-40 in France edged up 0.5 percent.
ASIAN MARKETS: Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 1 percent and China's Shanghai Composite plunged 2.9 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.8 percent. A notable mover was Malaysia Airlines, which fell sharply following the disappearance of one its jets en route to Beijing.