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    03.08.2015 20:08 U.S. stocks declined

    U.S. stocks declined, after equities posted their best monthly gain since February, as commodities producers sank and Apple Inc. fell into a correction.

    The Standard & Poor's 500 Index retreated 0.3 percent to 2,097.97 at 4 p.m. in New York, after falling as much as 0.8 percent, to close above its average price during the past 100 days.

    Commodities dropped after an official gauge of Chinese manufacturing slid to a five-month low and Iran said it will be able to bolster crude production within a week of sanctions ending.

    The slide in equities accelerated Monday after the S&P 500 fell below its average price for the past 100 days, a level commonly watched by market technicians. The gauge last dropped below the 100-day moving average on July 24 during its longest losing streak since January. The S&P 500 is about 1.3 percent above its 200-day average, a level that has stopped the last two declines of more than 2.8 percent.

    Apple fell for the ninth time in 10 days, sliding below its average price for the past 200 days for the first time since 2013 and extending its slide from a February high past 10 percent.

    Data Focus

    A report earlier showed American households kept spending in June, capping a stronger quarterly performance for the biggest part of the economy. Separate data showed The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index slipped last month from a June reading that was the fastest since the start of the year.

    Focus will turn later this week to the monthly payroll report due Friday, as the Federal Reserve looks for signs of a further pickup in the labor market before raising interest rates. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in July she expected the central bank to raise its benchmark rate this year, while emphasizing the pace of increases will probably be gradual.

    "At this point the focus is largely falling on the Fed, so the macro becomes the dominant conversation in terms of will they or won't they," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist in New York at BTIG LLC. "That's really the conversation point through what is likely to be a slow month. Everyone's going to be focusing on the economic data."

    The S&P 500 rose 2 percent in July, as earnings from Inc. and Google Inc. countered declines by commodity companies. The gauge advanced 1.2 percent last week, and is 1.9 percent below an all-time high reached in May.

    More than two-thirds of companies in the equity benchmark have reported earnings results, with nearly three-quarters beating profit estimates and half exceeding sales projections. Analysts now forecast a 2.8 percent drop in second-quarter earnings, shallower than calls for a 6.4 percent fall about two weeks ago.

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