US STOCKS-Wall St stumbles on weak trade data; investors eye Fed
* March trade deficit hits near 6-1/2 year high
* Tech stocks biggest drag on indexes
* Indexes off: Dow 0.66 pct, S&P 1.01 pct, Nasdaq 1.52 pct (Updates to afternoon)
By Noel Randewich
May 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks sagged in afternoon trading on Tuesday after a surprisingly wide March U.S. trade deficit suggested that the economy contracted in the first quarter.
Despite a rally of more than 2 percent in oil, energy stocks were stung for a second day by criticism of fracking companies by David Einhorn, the influential head of hedge fund Greenlight Capital.
The $51.4 billion March deficit was the highest in nearly 6-1/2 years and larger than the $45.2 billion the government assumed in its snapshot of first-quarter gross domestic product last week.
The weak economic data did little to appease investors who are bracing for an April payroll report due on Friday that could give a hint of when the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates.
"Earnings season is largely over and everyone is waiting for the payroll number," said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York. "We're sitting on our hands and saying, 'I need to get a better idea of what the Fed will do.'" Continuación...